THEATREGOERS who packed out the New Theatre, Oxford, to watch stars of the comedy circuit have raised £35,000 for two city hospices.

More than 1,800 comedy fans were at the theatre in George Street on March 4 to watch comics including Stephen Fry, Alan Davies, Rory McGrath, Harry Enfield and Jimmy Carr in Childish Things 3.

The event was in aid of Helen and Douglas House, in East Oxford. The hospices care for children and young adults with life-limiting illnesses.

Yesterday, Jamie Baskeyfield, general manager of the theatre, visited the hospice to hand over a cheque for £35,000.

Show organisers were originally hoping 1,000 people would buy £20 tickets this year - and were stunned when the show sold out so quickly.

Lizzie Pickering, whose six-year-old son Harry died in 2000 from a form of muscular dystrophy, was one of the event organisers.

She thanked staff at the New Theatre for working for free on the night, and for donating profits from the bar and ice cream sales to Helen House.

Harry Enfield raised an extra £100 on the night by taking off his sweaty shirt for auction.

Kate Day, who also organised the event, said yesterday: "We are absolutely thrilled to receive such an amazing amount from the New Theatre for Childish Things 3.

"We are very grateful to the theatre manager for his wonderful support of Helen and Douglas House.

"The theatre is a big commercial organisation and they have really taken us to heart.

"It was a very special night and now we have reached a tipping point, and Childish Things has become a recognised event on the Oxford calendar.

"Tickets are already selling well for 2008 - someone came in the other day and bought 30 tickets."

After next year's event, which takes place on Sunday, April 20, and again costs £20 a ticket, Childish Things will take place every other year to avoid a clash with Comic Relief.