Sir David Attenborough and Jacqueline Wilson among star names to support Yorkshire Brownie group

They may be some of the best-known names in Britain, but they’ve all turned their hand to art in the name of the Burley Brownies.

Authors, illustrators and celebrities ranging from Sir David Attenborough to Jacqueline Wilson and Julia Donaldson are among those to sign, design and doodle charity bookmarks to be put up for auction.

It all started seven years ago at the Burley-in-Wharfedale Scout Hut, near Ilkley, with the 1st Burley Brownies and their leaders writing letters to their favourite names.

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Now, and in every year since, hundreds of bookmarks have been donated, featuring cute characters and doodles from world-famous creators.

Burley Brownies have had support from some big namesBurley Brownies have had support from some big names
Burley Brownies have had support from some big names

With 400 up for auction from this week, the Brownies Bookmark Project will raise funds for Katiyo Primary School in Zimbabwe.

Brownie leader Sharon Hattersley said the Brownies had been busy raising money.

“Over the years the Brownies have helped to raise over £40,000 for the school,” she said.

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“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.”

Seven years ago, while watching a celebrity art auction, Miss Hattersley came upon the idea for personal bookmarks and, with two Brownies and their mothers, started writing letters.

They were astonished to receive 60 responses, raising £900 that first year. The initiative has grown over time, with backing and support from some of the biggest names in Britain.

Now the Bookmark Project begins each January, when girls start sending out their appeals. Every May, the bookmarks are auctioned, and fans can bid until May 22.

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There are bookmarks signed, drawn or painted by Sir David Attenborough, Sir David Jason, Sir Brian May, Sir Ian McKellen, Dawn French, Julian Clary and many more.

One from Julia Donaldson shows a hand sketch of The Gruffalo, complete with a note of apology to the original – and more talented at drawing perhaps – book illustrator Axel Scheffler, who himself has contributed with designs featuring cats and frogs.

There are more from Joanna Lumley, John Bishop, Hugh Bonneville and Chris Riddell.

For Miss Hattersley, as well as supporting charity, the initiative helps sow a seed for the children in their ability to make a difference with small acts.

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The 1st Burley Brownies, with 25 girls aged seven to 10, celebrated its 100th birthday in 2019 and has supported Katiyo school for over 20 years.

Over the past six years the Bookmark Project has raised £25,000 to help support projects for pupils in Zimbabwe, including a reading scheme, building two new blocks of toilets, buying textbooks and constructing water tanks as well as providing electricity.