RED noses and fancy dress dominated the region's fundraising efforts for Comic Relief.

Madcap sponsored events took place in schools, offices and on the streets, with every penny raised going to help people in need in Africa and the UK.

Staff and pupils at Hummersknott School and Language College, in Darlington, enjoyed a fun day of activities, with teachers dishing up lunches to pupils.

Youngsters at Heathfield Primary School, in the town, donned fancy dress and were treated to a show by the Magic Carpet Theatre Company, while children from Abbey Junior and Infants' schools took part in a fun run.

Silence was golden for nursery officer Lara Williams, of the Just Learning Nursery, in Newton Lane, Darlington, who held a sponsored silence during the day, with staff and children encouraged to communicate using hand signals.

A collection, bring-and-buy sale and sponsored waxing were held at The Northern Echo's head office, in Priestgate, Darlington.

At Tangles hairdressers, in High Row, £302 was raised by spraying hair red and adding red hair extensions to customers' styles.

A rogues' gallery of professionals was lined up in Sainsbury's car park, in Victoria Road. Bank managers, solicitors, traffic wardens and estate agents were among workers who were hit by wet sponges.

Three teenage youth workers, Tim Laskey of Cockfield, Martin Burn of Ramshaw, and Gary Hall, of West Auckland, involved in Groundwork Youth Work Sports Education Group, were volunteered to have their legs waxed to raise £130.

Students from Darlington College of Technology's hair and beauty department did the honours.

There was a full day of fundraising activities at the Orange Darlington site, with workers playing along with this year's Big Hair and Beyond theme.

Youngsters at dozens of primary and secondary schools in south-west Durham were allowed to ditch their uniforms for one day in favour of the Red Nose Day crimson dress code.

Almost all 455 nursery, infant and junior pupils took to the school yard at Timothy Hackworth School, Shildon, to show off the outrageous hairstyles they created.

Teachers and staff also joined in the fun and raised about £400.

Parkside School pupils, in Willington, and Peases West Primary, decorated themselves with face paints and wore red hair and clothes.

In Bishop Auckland, Julie Tyrie and Wendy Holmes, from Woodhouse Close Leisure Complex, were sponsored to splat workers in the town with cream cakes.

Long-haired Nigel Cross, 53, who is a travel consultant for GNER, had all his hair cut at the York Station Travel Centre by hairdresser Andrew Hide.

Elsewhere in North Yorkshire, workers at McCain's Scarborough plant organised a number of events. The company has already donated £500,000 to the charity effort through a sponsorship deal.

At Risedale School, in Catterick Garrison, teacher Joy Fraser, who is head of year eight, spent the day wearing her clothes back to front.

She said. "My feet were killing me by the end of the day, as I had my shoes on the wrong way round."

Pupils at the school handcuffed themselves to a friend for the day while others took part in a sponsored silence.

Patrons of Harry's Bar, in Catterick Garrison, paid to pour baked beans over manager Yvonne Kirkby as she sat in a bath.

An applicant who arrived for a job interview was questioned from the bath and more money was raised throughout the day with raffles, auctions and games.

Children at Richmond Primary School dressed up in red and yellow and governors baked cakes to sell.

In Durham City, vet Jack Creaner proved an eye-catching sight after he dyed his beard bright red for Comic Relief. Mr Creaner, 36, a senior partner of the Dunelm Veterinary Group, Gilesgate, decided to get into the spirit of Red Nose Day after being told he had to get rid of his facial hair.

Nearby hairdressers Coulthards dyed his dark brown beard for free.

Fifteen workers from Walker Snack Foods at Peterlee, east Durham, took the plunge and ran into the sea at Seaham to raise funds for the appeal.

Volunteers at Orange call centres in Peterlee and North Tyneside gave up their free time to take pledges for Comic Relief.

A bidder from Sunderland pledged £1,300 to get a rare hardback copy of adult comic Viz's mid-1980s annual, The Big Hard One.

Actors from TV drama Byker Grove joined volunteers at the JobCentre Plus customer contact centre, on North Tyneside, who offered to take public donations over the phone.

They were joined by more than 100 staff at the OC5 call centre at Wilton, near Redcar, east Cleveland.

At HBS in Middlesbrough, the fundraising was a bit of a drag, with ten male employees at the Rede House office dressing up as women for a "beauty" contest. It was won by clerk Gavin Lonsborough.

Just to be different, Don Walker, the firm's property manager, arrived at work in his pyjamas.

More than 120 staff and other volunteers from the JobCentre Plus customer contact centre in James Cook House, Middlesbrough, took phone donations during last night's seven-hour television show.

Pupils at Yarm Preparatory School, near Stockton, could not wait until yesterday to don their red noses and colour their hair. They raised more than £360 on Thursday.