Neeko Hewson, aged 13, of Tenbury Wells, became a first-time published author with the release of ‘Abberley Hall: The Magical Clock Tower’ in May.
Remarkably Neeko has both dyslexia - a learning difficulty that mainly causes problems with reading, writing and spelling - and dyscalculia - a specific and persistent difficulty in understanding numbers, which can lead to a diverse range of difficulties with mathematics.
All profits from her adventurous tale for nine to 12-year-olds will support NHS staff across the UK.
Neeko, who is a pupil at Abberley Hall School in Worcestershire, which has a clock tower, said: “I dreamt of writing a story to tell other children when I was nine years old, but I didn’t think it would be possible to create – let alone publish – a book because of my learning difficulties.
“My English teacher said: ‘Write what you know’, so I thought about the old clock tower at my school and what magic might be hiding behind its door. I started putting a picture book together; then, when covid hit, I worked on my project even harder.
"I used my time in lockdown to work on my characters and the magical lands – painting pictures of them with my family. It became a book of more than a hundred pages, which I hope other children will enjoy.
"Covid was really hard for NHS key workers and so, through my book, I really want to raise money to help with their mental health.”
Over the course of two years, ghost writer Jude Lennon and illustrator Lisa Williams from publishing house TAUK Kids helped Neeko to develop her ideas during a series of Zoom calls and home visits.
She also received encouragement from her school.
Neeko, who has a twin brother, Darcy, and a six-year-old brother named Anatole, said: “Albert Einstein had dyslexia and he could still do things!
“Even if you don’t understand words or numbers, you can do so much more than you think. You just have to follow your dreams.”
Proud father James Hewson, 45, said that the process of creating what Neeko hopes will be the first book in an ‘Abberley Hall’ series gave the family a positive focus during the pandemic: “Creating this book has been an amazing father-daughter bonding experience; it is something we will have in our family forever more.
‘When Neeko’s mum Francesca and I saw her initial picture book, we knew it had to be expanded to do it service. With her dyslexia and dyscalculia in mind, we wanted to give her confidence going forward as a young person that you do have choices – even if sometimes you have to work harder.
"We also wanted to expose Neeko to working with other people and making use of their skillsets, which is healthy both in life and in business. There is great strength in collaboration and I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in bringing this book to life.”
Abberley Hall: The Magical Clock Tower is available to purchase from galaxy-publishing.com
Donations to Neeko’s JustGiving page can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TheMagicalClockTower
So far she has raised £2,275 of a £15,000 target.
Abberley Clock Tower is part of Abberley Hall School and was completed in 1884 at a cost of £7,980. The tower is 161ft (49m) high.
NHS Charities Together (NCT) is a national independent charity – caring for the NHS so everyone can have better healthcare. With a network of over 230 NHS charities across the UK, NCT provide the extra support that staff, patients and volunteers need to help the NHS go further.