A GROUP of Yorkshire Brownies, has received support from A-list celebrities such as Dame Helen Mirren and author Sir Quentin Blake for its project to raise funding for a school in Zimbabwe.

Every year the girls of the 1st Burley Brownies, based in Burley-in-Wharfedale near Ilkley, write letters to their favourite authors, illustrators and celebrities asking them to design a bookmark.

This year the brownies have received over 350 bookmarks from authors Jacqueline Wilson, Cressida Cowell, and M.G Leonard; illustrators Sir Quentin Blake, Jackie Morris and Chris Riddell; comedian Jo Brand; musician Brian May; actors Dame Helen Mirren, Anita Dobson and Debbie Chazen; German illustrator Axel Scheffler and many more.

The Bookmark Project is now in its fifth year and all the money raised is used to support Katiyo Primary School in Zimbabwe. All the bookmarks received will be sold by auction, between May 10th-24th and members of the public can bid on their favourite bookmarks.

Brownie Leader Sharon Hattersley said: “Over the years the Brownies have helped to raise over £20,000 for the school. This money has helped to build blocks of toilets, provide desks and benches for all the classrooms, bought reading books and supported a number of other projects.”

In its first year the auction raised over £900 and helped to purchase a reading scheme for the school, in its second year the auction raised a fantastic £3000 which helped to bring electricity to the school and teacher houses. In 2019 the auction raised £2900 and the money was used to help search for a new water supply. In 2020 the auction raised a fantastic £6600, some of this money has been used to build two new blocks of toilets with building work in progress.

Sharon added: “This year the funds raised will go towards building nursery classrooms for the youngest children who currently have none. We will combine the proceeds of this year’s auction with funds already raised and hope to be able to start the building project in the next 12 months. We are in the process of drawing up preliminary building plans.

“We have also been asked to provide textbooks for the grade 7 students and to help purchase large water storage tanks.”

The 1st Burley Brownies is made up of 24 girls aged seven to ten years, and their leaders. The group is over 100 years old and have been supporting the school in Zimbabwe for 20 years.

The group has exchanged letters and WhatsApp messages with the teachers and children at the school and Brownie leaders have visited the school twice.

Several of the girls earned their charities badges in the autumn raising over £3000 for the school through a sponsored swim and run, home baking delivery services, crafts sales and an online appeal.

To take part in the auction go to www.jumblebee.co.uk/bookmarkproject2021 between 10th-24th May.