Sunderland’s ‘fantastic’ experience in Inspirational Woman of the Year finals

Marilyn Baldwin, Lorraine Kelly, Siobhan Bogues and Sandra Barber. Picture by Janie Airey.

Marilyn Baldwin, Lorraine Kelly, Siobhan Bogues and Sandra Barber. Picture by Janie Airey.

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A CARING Wearsider told how she “gained so much” after being shortlisted for an award, despite losing.

Sandra Barber was picked as one of the three finalists for ITV’s Lorraine’s Inspirational Woman of the Year award.

But the martial arts instructor isn’t disappointed at being a runner-up, after one of the best experiences of her life.

“It’s all been such a whirlwind,” said Sandra, 51, of Silksworth, who attended the awards lunch in London on Tuesday.

“The awards presentation was honestly one of the best days I have had in my life,” she said.

“There were so many celebrities there, I couldn’t possibly name them all, and they were telling me how inspirational my work is.

“My head is still spinning. It was fantastic.”

Sandra was nominated for the award by husband George, 51, for her community self-defence campaign Spence Defence, based at Fitness 2000 gym in Roker Avenue.

She renamed it Spence Defence in honour of sisters Tatum Leah, 14, and Demi Jade Spence, 12, who died in a fire at their South Shields home in 2007. “This has helped to keep their memories alive,” said Sandra, a self-employed therapist for drug addicts, who often works for free or low pay.

“It is keeping the flame of their memory alive, which is nice for John and Anita, their parents.

“I don’t think of the work I do as anything special. It’s just what I do, but it is nice to get that bit of recognition – and I got to keep the outfit picked by the stylist for the award’s ceremony.”