Annie’s The Key

by Sophia Smith

Inspired by the army of frontline workers throughout the pandemic, seven-year-old Annie Bond and her mum, Victoria, went on a mission to raise as much money as possible for the frontline workers and charities in England.

In April 2020, they set to work on their fun new mission, bringing Little Key Worker Co to life, in the form of wooden bookmarks and play puppets from their living room in Briercliffe, Burnley. Victoria purchased craft sticks shaped like people for Annie to draw on.

“We decided to draw them as key workers and turn them into bookmarks. The enterprising pair decided upon the idea that each keyworker bookmark would have a profession relating to a frontline worker, such as the police, nurses or teachers. It was a good opportunity for Annie, who loves doodling, to learn about different frontline professions.”

“My favourite thing to do is colour in each key worker and learn what jobs they all have to do. My favourite one to make was the police lady because they like helping people like me, it makes me smile.”

“I thought we would only sell 12 bookmarks, but suddenly we had sold 300, it was ridiculous. We couldn’t keep up with orders. There was even a shortage of them in the UK, we must have bought them all!” laughs Victoria.

Little Key Worker Co was off to a flying ‘art’ as their little venture suddenly became a production line, with characters appearing on mugs, puzzles, water bottles and stationery. “Within four weeks of our project, we raised around £1,000 for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. We even distributed as far as Australia!” Koala-ty!

Key workers were sending in selfies requesting for bookmarks to look just like them. “We sold over 3,000 mugs in total from our front doorstep. We even had police officers knocking on the door buying some for their main office in Preston.” I bet the neighbours were wondering what was going on, this wasn’t the typical type of mugshots they were after…

Annie receiving her medal from the Lord Mayor of Burnley

Doctor and television presenter Dr Ranj reached out for his very own personalised Little Key Worker mug. “It felt amazing because I’ve watched Dr Ranj on Strictly Come Dancing, I’m so excited he loves our project, he posted it on his Instagram!” smiled Annie, who was nominated for a Pride of Britain award and recently received the Lord Khan’s Mayor of Burnley Medal, “It was my favourite day ever, I felt really special meeting Lord Mayor Khan and receiving the Mayor’s Medal. Jordan North was there too and he loves Little Key Worker!”

This August, Little Key Worker worked with ELHT&ME, a charity raising money for East Lancashire Hospitals. Annie and brother Oliver were surprised at their home by the charity’s mascot bear, Elmore, to celebrate the launch of their new website. “Me and Elmore danced, hugged and he even had a drink out of one of the water bottles.” grins Annie. Move over Paddington, this is a beary deserving visit!

As they continue to grow and expand, their mission will always remain the same, to create smiles and to keep raising money for charities and celebrate the work of our remarkable key workers. “Our ultimate aim is to let people choose whatever charity they want to donate to when they purchase from our website, whether its Macmillan, ELHT, Alder Hey or any charity of their choice. We hope to see Little Key Worker Co being used in education to help teach children about jobs that key workers do and to incorporate the puppets to assist with learning.” said Victoria.  How handy, I’m etching to see what’s next!

With each purchase a donation goes straight to keyworkers, the duo’s imaginative characters were just the first step to the extraordinary idea born out of these unprecedented times.

To get your hands on one of Annie’s Little Key Workers and to support the cause visit littlekeyworkerco.com