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Olivia finds treasure at the end of a rainbow

Date: 01 April 2021

Time: 08:00


A 12-year-old girl has raised more than £600 for Sussex Community NHS Charity by making and selling plastic bead rainbows “to cheer people up”. 

Olivia Anker (pictured), a nurse’s daughter from Crowborough, East Sussex, thought of the idea while being home-schooled in lockdown during her final year of primary school. 

Shrugging off the disappointment of a cancelled school trip to Wales, she used Hama beads to make hundreds of copies of a symbol now closely associated with thanking NHS staff for their hard work during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Leaving her multi-coloured creations in a pot at the end of her drive with a sign inviting passers-by to ‘Take a rainbow – donations please for the NHS’, the then 11-year-old was soon overwhelmed by the response. 

Forced to draft sister Lucy and brother Joseph, then aged nine and six, onto the production line to keep pace with demand, Olivia and her siblings watched with delight as the donations flooded in.

“They would get very excited and kept a close eye to see if the rainbow pot needed refilling,” said mum Yana, a community staff nurse with Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust’s High Wealden Primary Care Network. 

“Donations ranged from 20p to £50, with one donor leaving a bag of sweets for them and a £5 note.”

As word of the fundraising appeal spread, neighbours snapped up rainbows, friends driving by stopped to contribute, and there were even a few mail orders. 

Olivia eventually raised £614 and gave the money to Sussex Community NHS Charity, the Trust’s official charity, which will spend it in Crowborough on projects that fall outside the scope of the Trust’s core funding, such as those designed to improve patient care and staff wellbeing. 

“When Olivia started fundraising, it was a really difficult time for her because of the first lockdown,” said Yana and husband David. 

“It not only forced her to miss out on the trip to Wales with her friends, but affected her preparations for the transition to her secondary school. 

“But instead of letting it all get to her and feeling sorry for herself, she came up with a great way to help a cause which is very close to everyone’s hearts – the NHS. We couldn’t be more proud of her.”