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Ashford hit and run victim Rose Brown given new voice

A young woman who suffered life-changing injuries and lost her ability to communicate following a hit and run that killed two others has been given a new voice.

Rose Brown was left disabled after a drink driver mounted the pavement in Beaver Road, Ashford, as she walked home from a night out at Ashford International Sports and Social Club in 2009.

Slovakian national Stefan Stanko was jailed for 10 years after he admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

Rose appeared on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show earlier this week. Picture: BBC
Rose appeared on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show earlier this week. Picture: BBC

The crash killed grandmother Denise Head, 49, and great-grandad Brian Moon, 67, who were struck by the car as they walked back from the club with Rose.

Rose - who was 12 and living in Stanhope at the time - was left unable to speak or move her arms and legs.

Ten years on, the 21-year-old has been involved in a scheme which allows people who use a Speech Generating Device (SGD) to communicate with a unique synthetic voice that sounds like their own.

Floral tributes left at the scene of the accident in 2009
Floral tributes left at the scene of the accident in 2009

Graduates from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London have donated their voices to students at specialist disability college National Star.

Rose listened to a large database of actors voices and selected a Cockney accent by Natasha Cowley - who is a voice donor and graduate at the drama school.

Natasha recorded 1,600 phrases to make up different combinations of sounds and sent them to American-based Model Talker to generate the new voice.

Rose Brown with communication equipment that enabled to speak for the first time in two years in 2011. Picture: Gary Browne(13980729)
Rose Brown with communication equipment that enabled to speak for the first time in two years in 2011. Picture: Gary Browne(13980729)

Speaking on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show on Tuesday, Rose said: "My new voice makes me sound like me and represents my personality.

"I was grateful to have a voice to be able to speak to people myself but my old voice made me feel like a boring middle-aged woman and not the bubbly, friendly 21-year-old that I am.

"I love using it and seeing people's reactions to it - I wish I had it sooner.

"I now feel that it reflects my personality when I am talking to people and it gives me confidence because I like the way it sounds."

Rose with her grandparents Margaret and Steven Scorah in 2010. Picture: Martin Apps(13980394)
Rose with her grandparents Margaret and Steven Scorah in 2010. Picture: Martin Apps(13980394)

In 2011, Find a Voice in Beaver Lane helped the teenager say her first words in two years after donating a piece of equipment to allow her to communicate with family and friends.

The machine enables Rose to talk and create sentences by leaning left or right on sensor pads on either side of her head.

Charity founder Alastair Dutch first met the teenager at the start of her journey and has been following her progress ever since.

He said: "When Rose had her accident, we were in contact with the family and we lent her a piece of communication equipment.

"We worked with her for a long time and she is still an ambassador for our charity now.

"Rose is a remarkable lady and showed great courage to keep going at the time of the accident.

"I was grateful to have a voice to be able to speak to people myself but my old voice made me feel like a boring middle-aged woman and not the bubbly, friendly 21-year-old that I am"...Rose Brown

"It is really important to give people an identity because communication aids all speak with the same voice.

"The voice Rose has chosen is what we called a Southern English - which is London and Kent.

"It gives people a sense of original identity, like we all have. I think it is great for Rose that she sounds like her family."

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