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Inspirational 16-year-old Shows Us How to Face Challenges

Published on: 17 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 21 Feb, 2022

By Martin Giles

Getting published is a challenge for any budding author but Rowan Todd, who lives off Woodbridge Road in Guildford, has already achieved it.

She said: “Ever since I was six years old, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’d have a multitude of ideas racing around inside my head, but they’d never stay still for long enough to make it onto paper!”

But getting her book published is not the only challenge Rowan has faced. “I’ve gone through a lot of difficult times in my life. I was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis type one (a genetic condition that causes tumour growth) at the age of three with a brain tumour on my optic nerves.”

As a result, Rowan is now blind and writes everything in braille: “Following my diagnosis I endured several years of chemotherapy, as well as several other surgeries linked to my condition, before I was ten.

“During these tough times, my closest companions were talking books and music. I’d spend whole days simply lying on the sofa and listening to stories. I loved making up stories and writing them down but I could never stay focussed for long enough to get anything properly finished. I would spend far too much energy on planning and worrying about spellings to get to the ending.”

Last January (2021), just after recovering from Covid, Rowan had an epiphany moment: “An entire plot was delivered to my mind; the book was basically fully written in my head. I quickly started writing my ideas down on my electronic braille machine and found that the more I wrote the more naturally the inspiration flowed.

“After I’d written about fifty thousand words, I showed my product to my parents. They helped me fine-tune the plot (and spellings – my spelling is awful) and send it off to a publishing company. So in November, around a month before my sixteenth birthday, I was a published writer!”

Rowan’s novel is available via Waterstones, click on image above to link.

“My book Ocean’s Pearl is a young adult fiction novel about adapting to a life changed in a split second. You can buy it from or from any online book shops. An audiobook is also coming soon.”

Rowan addressing Guildford Borough Council in July, 2019

As if all that was not inspiring enough, Rowan left a lasting impression on those present at a full meeting of Guildford Borough Council in 2019. Undaunted by the formality of the occasion, she described her fear of climate change: “I am 13 years old and I am petrified for my future. The world needs to wake up and change in order to survive. By 2048, leading scientists predict that at the current rate of overfishing and pollution there will be no fish left in our oceans.

“I am scared because despite solid scientific evidence some people still believe we can carry on as before and survive into the future.

“No government is doing anywhere near enough about it. We are fighting a global war for our very survival. Decisions made or not made this evening will have a huge impact on our lives and on our futures.”

She is clearly one young Guildfordonian to watch.

See also: Teenager Tells Council She is ‘Petrified’ for Her Future as Climate Emergency is Declared

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Responses to Inspirational 16-year-old Shows Us How to Face Challenges

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    February 17, 2022 at 5:58 pm

    What an inspiring young person. Well done Rowan.

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