Is this Sunderland powerhouse Britain’s most inspiring woman?

Sandra Barber - finalist in Lorraine Kelly's Inspirational Women of the Year Award.
Sandra Barber - finalist in Lorraine Kelly's Inspirational Women of the Year Award.
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IS this Wearside powerhouse Britain’s most inspiring woman?

Sandra Barber, of Silksworth, 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, based at Fitness 2000, Roker Avenue, was nominated for the accolade by her husband.

George, 51, put his wife’s name forward because of the work she does helping the city’s young people to boost their self confidence, and learn the skills they need to protect themselves.

Sandra, 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, which is 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 which 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.

“So I just want to enjoy this whole experience of being nominated, I’m not even thinking about winning.”

Sandra, who is 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,” she said.

“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.

“It will be seven years in April since the girls died. I couldn’t bring them back but I have kept their memory alive.

“They were first-class students and two of the nicest girls I’ve ever met.

“I love what I do. Most of it is voluntary or low paid, but I love working with the people I do and helping them in any way I can.”

People can vote for Sandra to win from Thursday.

Visit www.itv.com/lorraine for more details.