The founder of a Sheffield-based national charity has been crowned Charity Fundraiser of the Year by a top women’s business website.
Sandra Howard picked up the prestigious award at the glittering Network She ceremony in Llandudno, Wales, after being recognised for her dedication to the charity Fable, which she set up in 1995.
In the 18 years since then, Sandra has helped raised almost £3 million for the charity, which helps improve the lives of people with epilepsy.
Sandra said: “I was absolutely delighted to win and very shocked, because all the other shortlisted nominees were so strong.
“I couldn’t believe it when they read my name out. It was all a bit surreal and overwhelming, not just for me but for all the Fable team and our supporters.” Sandra set up the charity because her son, Gareth, was severely epileptic and suffered as many as 15 major fits a day.
When she discovered that a revolutionary new treatment, the vagal nerve stimulator implant, was not available on the NHS, she decided to set up Fable to raise the money herself.
After Gareth’s condition improved, she set up Fable - For A Better Life with Epilepsy - to help other families, and won the very first Pride of Britain Fundraiser of the Year award back in 1999.
Since then the charity has grown beyond recognition and will move from its current head office in Glossop Road, Broomhill, to new premises in Bedford Street near Shalesmoor.
“I’m a Sheffield girl, my roots are here and I’m proud to come from Sheffield, so there were never any thoughts of moving elsewhere,” said Sandra, aged 58, who lives in Walkley.
“We’ve had great support from the people of Sheffield and it’s a great hub for people to come to.”
And she is predicting big things for the charity in the next 18 months.
“I really think this could be Fable’s year,” she said.
“I’ve been shortlisted for the most Dynamisante Woman of the Year award which is run by Clarin’s and You magazine, which if I won would mean the charity would get £30,000, which is fantastic.
“We’ve also got our first Fable runner in the London marathon and three Fable runners in the Sheffield marathon, and we’ve got loads of things planned for next year too.”
Sandra already has one eye on Fable’s 20th birthday celebrations in 2015 too.
“We’ve got some big plans,” she said.