It has been announced that Royal toddlers Charlotte and George have Donegal-designed dolls Lottie and Finn in their collection.
The dolls were created by Toy Company Arklu, which was co-founded by local man Ian Harkin and has a Donegal base in Letterkenny.
The annual Royal Gift List was published yesterday, when it was revealed that Lottie and Finn featured among the records of global gifts the family received from all over the world.
The dolls were gifted to HRH Prince Charles when he visited Donegal last year and met with Arklu, the toy company which started their business with a doll to celebrate the Royal Wedding and went on to create their own brand of wholesome, childhood inspired dolls.
Arklu MD Ian Harkin offered gifts of Lottie and Finn dolls to the Prince of Wales for his grandchildren Princess Charlotte and Prince George of Cambridge, which are now included in the Royal Collection. Harkin also offered a set of the limited edition Arklu Royal Wedding Dolls, which led to the start-up toy company developing Lottie, Lottie Dolls was first launched in August 2012.
During the visit, Lottie MD Ian Harkin explained to Prince Charles how Arklu began their journey after developed the Royal dolls and that a percentage of sales are donated to the Royal National Lifeboats Institution.
He explained to the Prince how whilst developing the royal dolls, Arklu were approached by a number of parents who suggested developing a wholesome alternative doll for children. Inspired by this, Arklu made it their mission to create a more empowered doll option for children, and following 18 months of research developed their now award-winning Lottie dolls, building in childhood focused attributes in collaboration with scientists, parents, children and play experts.
Unlike other dolls Lottie, Finn and Friends are based on nine year old children and focused on childhood adventures. The collection was created to empower children to be themselves, to be imaginative, adventurous and most of all to have fun.
The Stargazer Lottie doll was shown to the Prince of Wales during his visit to the Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Harkin explained that Stargazer Lottie was part of ESA British Astronaut Tim Peak’s Principal mission on the International Space Station. The Prince of Wales found the British astronomy link very interesting.
Stargazer Lottie Doll is currently on route to Utah, to take part in a Mars Martian simulation with Dr Niamh Shaw as part of the crew of ‘Mars Mission 173’, which began on January 14th.
This latest news from the Royal family is another boost for the Donegal toy company which has achieved significant milestones in 2016 that include major partnerships with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, a publishing partnership with Penguin and becoming the overall winners of the 2016 Google ‘Adopt a Start-up Award’. Arklu employs 10 people in its Donegal HQ, and hopes to double that number in 2017.