A WOMAN who continues to honour the memory of two South Tyneside sisters killed in a house fire is in the running for a prestigious TV award.
Sandra Barber, is in the running to win the title of ITV’s Lorraine’s Inspirational Woman of the Year award next week.
The coach at community self-defence campaign Spence Defence was nominated for the accolade by her husband.
George, 51, put his wife’s name forward because of the work she does helping young people to boost their self-confidence, and learn the skills they need to protect themselves.
Sandra, from Silksworth, Sunderland – also a self-employed therapy provider for drug addicts – has helped scores of her students “feel safer” thanks to her martial arts training.
The 51-year-old changed the name of her club in honour of her students, sisters Tatum Leah Spence, 14, and Demi Jade Spence, 12, who died in a fire at their South Shields home in April 2007.
She also created a new logo, featuring the girls’ silhouettes in their favourite colours, pink and yellow.
The kind-hearted coach, who works for little or no pay, uses alternative therapies, including martial arts and beauty therapy, to treat those in drugs rehabilitation, and said she thinks the good work the campaign does is a team effort.
“I was surprised to be nominated for the award,” she said.
“For me, I look at everything I do as a group effort from everyone involved, I don’t want to take all the credit for the good that comes from it.
“I just want to enjoy this whole experience of being nominated, I’m not even thinking about winning.”
Sandra, one of three final candidates up to win the gong, will appear on ITV’s Lorraine show tomorrow morning for an interview with host Lorraine Kelly, before finding out if she has won the Inspirational Woman of the Year award at the Women of the Year Lunch and Awards in London, next Monday.
“I can’t wait to meet Lorraine Kelly,” said Sandra, of Silksworth, Sunderland.
“I watch the programme every day, so it feels surreal that I will be on it.
“I’ll answer any questions she has about what I do. There’s not one specific thing that I’m dying to tell her.
“It will be seven years in April since the girls died. I couldn’t bring them back, but I’ve kept their memory alive. They were first-class students and two of the nicest girls I’ve ever met.”
People can vote for Sandra, who runs her classes at Fitness 2000 in Roker Avenue, Sunderland, to win from Thursday.
Visit www.itv.com/lorraine for more details.