Award-winning author Sufiya Ahmed visits Sharples School

The Bolton News: Sufiya Ahmed with pupils Demi Lea Reynolds and Annalise Heald, both aged 12 Sufiya Ahmed with pupils Demi Lea Reynolds and Annalise Heald, both aged 12

AN award-winning author was in town to inspire young minds at Sharples School.

Brit Writers’ Award Winner, Sufiya Ahmed, spoke to pupils about her book Secrets of the Henna Girl and revealed how she became an author.

The talk was given to children in Years Seven and Eight and those taking part in the Bolton Children’s Fiction Book Award.

Sufiya lived in Bolton from the age of six months to five years, before moving to London.

She worked in advertising and at the Houses of Parliament, before deciding to fulfil her childhood dream of being a writer.

After submitting her work, and receiving many rejection letters, Sufiya decided to set up her own publishing company and released her first novel in 2007.

Now, she hopes Bolton youngsters will follow her example by achieving their ambitions.

She said: “I’ve found today really enjoyable, the children were a delight to work with. They listened very attentively.

“I hope the children will be inspired to read my book, and that they can take courage from my journey.

“I hope that they won’t give up on their dreams and realise that, if they put in the hard work, they can get there.”

Secrets of the Henna Girl focuses on a 16-year-old character named Zeba, who is forced into a marriage against her will.

Sufiya explained to the pupils the difference between arranged marriages and forced marriages, and got them to dress up in a mock wedding ceremony.

Jane Matthews, head of English at the school, said: “It’s very important to raise cultural awareness because we are a multicultural school.

“To get a well-established author like Sufiya in to raise this awareness is a big boost for us.”

Yahya Patel, a Year Seven pupil at the school, aged 11, said: “It’s been a pleasure listening to Sufiya and finding out about the background to her life.

“She’s faced many difficulties in achieving her dream, but her journey shows that, even though it takes a long time, it can be achieved.”

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