Sheffield illustrator’s ‘miracle’ eye for detail

Ella Garrud with the children's book she has designed and illustrated
Ella Garrud with the children's book she has designed and illustrated
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A Sheffield illustrator has proved she has an eye for detail - even though she was blind at the age of six.

Ella Garrud, of Hunters Bar, lost almost all of her sight as a little girl due to cataracts.

But thanks to a pioneering operation, her vision was restored and she has gone on to illustrate and produce her first children’s book.

Ella, now aged 25, said: “By the time I had the operation I was almost blind in both eyes.

“I remember my mum putting her hand over one of my eyes and asking what I could see, and I just said, ‘Nothing!’”

Ella’s mum, Liz Wilson, said: “As her mum, I had no idea until she failed a routine eye test at Broomhall nursery school at the age of four.

“She was referred to the eye clinic at the Hallamshire Hospital and the doctor could not believe initially what he saw.

“Ella had cataracts – a symptom of childhood leukaemia and other serious childhood illnesses. Fortunately she was lucky – all tests showed that she just had cataracts. However, in children in the early 90s, they usually removed the whole lens, leaving the child blind without special glasses.

“Ella had surgery which was unusual for children then - she had plastic lenses inserted into her eyes and has had fantastic vision ever since.

“To say it was like a miracle is not an understatement.”

Ella went on to complete a degree in art and design at Bath Spa University.

After graduating in 2012, she went travelling and ended up volunteering for a marine conservation project in South Africa.

She said: “I had always been interested in whales and dolphins. I researched various different projects and this particular project was run alongside a commercial whale watching company.”

Over the next 11 weeks Ella went out on the boats to identify wildlife and record the sightings to enable researchers to track populations.

She went on a second visit to South Africa in 2013 and was put in contact with author Jen Ponder, who was seeking somebody to illustrate and design her book, ‘My Guide to Magnificent Marine Creatures.’

Ella completed her designs and illustrations during her eight-month stint in South Africa.

n The book is available at Books on the Park on Ecclesall Road and online at www.etsy.com/ca/shop/EllaGarrudShop