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Falkirk Girl With Sight Loss Is World Book Day Winner

Grace Kidd, 9, from Falkirk, is the winner of a creative writing competition hosted for the first time by leading sight loss charity, RNIB, to mark World Book Day.

Grace wrote her 500 word story called ‘The Mysterious Box’ - in which she uncovers a magical portal to another world – using her Braille Note Touch and the story was then printed on a braille embosser.

The competition for children aged five to 12 was based on RNIB’s motto, ‘See differently’ and aimed to celebrate different ways of seeing, beholding, and sensing an adventure that children have been on, or one that they could imagine.

Grace’s story was judged from three shortlisted entries by multi-award winning children’s author Sir Michael Morpurgo and the prize was a set of signed books from Sir Michael in the format of her choice.

Announcing the winner, Sir Michael said:

"The story draws you in and keeps you reading. And when it is over, it’s not over and I like that! Bravo the writer! We can't wait to see what she writes next!”

Grace was born with vision impairment. At three months old her parents took her to a standard health appointment which showed up that her eyes were not tracking very well.

Tests showed she had inherited Leber Congenital Amaurosis – which means the cone at the back of her eye hadn’t developed fully. As a result, she can only see light and dark.

Grace is an excellent student at her primary school in Falkirk and is a keen reader, using Audible and Borrow Box to read hundreds of books which she uses as inspiration for her own stories.

She started writing stories by making up titles and writing out descriptions of the blurb that might appear on the back cover of a book.

Now she writes everything from fantasy and high school teen fiction to darker thrillers.

On winning the RNIB competition, Grace said:

“It’s like wahooooo, I was so happy so excited. I can’t believe it. It will be a great milestone for me. I’m stuck between three passions at the moment, but one of them is writing, and I’d like to become an author.

“To get inspiration, my teacher had set us a writing project about a mysterious box. She gave us some ideas at the start such as the box being magical or something mysterious being inside the box.”

On Grace’s love of reading and writing, her dad, David Kidd, said:

“We saw something on TV about accessibility of smartphones and it just blew us away, so we got one for Grace. She became a natural on it and discovered ways to do things that no one else would know.

“When we started getting into audio books they really captivated her.

She now has 300-odd books.

“Because she’s listened to so many books, and because the narrators have to make them jump off the page and describe something that’s not there, they are excellent for children with vision impairment. That’s helped Grace to learn to join words together and describe things and develop an excellent vocabulary.”

"Grace winning this competition is fantastic recognition for all her hard work. It takes a lot of effort to make what she does look easy, but she does what she does for the love of it. She’s been creating content for as long as she’s had her phone. She just has fun with this stuff and genuinely tries hard with everything she does.

“Because she has to work harder in school, it gives her a work ethic that’s rewarded her and makes her realise that if she sets her mind to things then she can do anything she wants to. She’s in a place where she has absolutely no fear.”

As well as her guide dog Mollie, Grace finds her white cane to be very helpful and uses a Braille Note Touch and Perkins brailler to read and write.

Asked if she has a message for other children with sight loss, Grace said:

“Well, I would say to everyone who is visually impaired, don’t give up; you can do things but just in a different way. Just because you are blind or have any disability, you are unique and you can do whatever your mind is set to do.”

David added:

“The biggest barrier is building friendships her age and helping her to do that but respecting that there has to be a barrier where she does that herself and were we are not going to be overbearing parents in that.

“Children are pretty good with each other but sometimes it’s the parents who are perhaps a bit more reluctant, as they don’t know what that disability represents and what accommodations they may have to make.”

Lara Marshall, RNIB Library Engagement Manager said:

“This is the very first national creative writing competition the RNIB has run for World Book Day, and we're delighted that Grace is our winner!”