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First-time author Jenica wins inspirational award

PROUD WINNER: Jenica Leah poses with her award

A FIRST-TIME author has expressed her surprise at being named Inspirational Young Author award at the recent BEX Live Enterprise and Community Awards in Birmingham.

Jenica Leah, 28, was lauded for her self-published book, My Friend Jen, which tells the story of a four-year-old Jen and how she manages the sickle cell anaemia condition she has been diagnosed with.

The story is told by Jen’s best friend Tommy as he outlines the fun they have together. He gently highlights the measures Jen must take in order to stay fit and healthy.

“I was really surprised to win,” Jenica told The Voice. "WhenI didn't win the best author category, I thought that was it as I was not expecting to be put forward as a young author. I didn't think I classified as long anymore! Still I am proud of my achievement. I didn't expect to do so well."

PICTURED: Jenica with fellow award winners

“I wanted to raise more awareness of sickle cell and to give children with the condition the peace of mind that I did not have growing up. When I was a child, I was embarrassed about my condition and I did not understand why I was always in hospital."

“The children at school would question why I was off sick and I would make excuses, simply because I struggled to explain what I was suffering from.” My Friend Jen is part of a series, with follow-up editions set to be published next spring. “I would advise anyone who thinks they have a story to tell, to go ahead and write it, and not to let self-doubt stop you,” said Jenica.

Aside from her literary exploits, Jenica works in partnership with her cousin, pharmacist Sadeh Sophia, as United Sicklers, an organisation which uses online communications to provide lifestyle guidance on how to live with the condition.

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