Peddie from Hebburn to boost wildlife charity.
Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
STAND-UP comedian Steffen Peddie is setting out to put a smile on the faces of North East wildlife workers.
Perhaps best known for playing Big Keith in the BBC sitcom Hebburn' along with Vic Reeves, Gina McKee and Chris Ramsey, Steffen built his career performing as a comedian in the North of England.
He is also a keen supporter of Northumberland Wildlife Trust and its conservation and approached the charity with an offer to host a comedy night in aid of a current project.
Now, Steffen and his fellow comedians are to stage a 'Giggles for Grasslands' evening at The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle tonight.
All money raised will be spent on conserving the region's rare grasslands which are in decline.
Steve Lowe, head of conservation at Northumberland Wildlife Trust and a regular at The Stand Comedy Club, said: "What a great alternative way to raise money for what is seen as a boring subjectgrasslands.
"But if anybody can make grasslands interesting, Steffen can.
"The money will be used to save some of the rarest plants in the country which are all too often overlooked."
Tickets cost PS5 and are available from Northumberland Wildlife Trust headquarters at St Nicholas Park in Gosforth, Newcastle, at Northumberlandia in Cramlington or from The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle.
Doors open at 7pm for an 8.30pm start.
Last year the trust was awarded PS300,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of a national drive to save the UK's remaining meadow and special grasslands.
The trust is using the money to help manage the special grassland habits of the Whin Sill and the shingle banks of the River Tyne.
Steve Lowe said: "The unique grassland communities of the Whin Sill and the river shingles of the Tyne are two of Northumberland's most sensitive and scarce habitats, something we have a special responsibility for but which few people know much about.
"If we are to stop the loss of these areas, we must take the time to understand, manage and celebrate them."
There were once natural wildflower meadows in every parish in the country, but today only 2% of the meadows that existed in the 1930s remain and nearly 7.5 million acres of wild-flower meadow have been lost so far, and they are still being destroyed.
One in five of the nation's wild plants are on the verge of extinction and species-rich grasslands are becoming increasingly rare.
The Hadrian's Wall corridor is an important location for whin grassland and the South Tyne Valley, Allendale area and places such as Beltingham and Close House are where shingle sites are found.
The Whin Sill is a quartz-dolerite rock, similar to basalt and outcrops appear from south-west Northumberland across the county to the coast.
Where this rock is exposed the thin soil is prone to drought but supports a unique collection of plants.
They include field garlic, chives, maiden pink, long-stalked cranesbill, heath pearlwort, common rockrose and burnet rose.
Steffen Peddie, left, as Big Keith alongside Neil Grainger as Gervaise in Hebburn