Are they Sunderland’s best grandparents?

Prize-winning grandparents Frances and Stephen Slade with their grandchildren Thomas Hirst, seven and Cameron, nine.
Prize-winning grandparents Frances and Stephen Slade with their grandchildren Thomas Hirst, seven and Cameron, nine.
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MEET Wearside’s best grandparents – and they could even be named as the grandest in the country.

Stephen Slade, 59, and his wife Frances, 60, have been named as North-East winners in the Super Grandparent Awards after being put forward by their grandson Cameron.

The award means the pair have been shortlisted for the nationwide top three and will go forward to the national final in Reading later this month.

Stephen said: “I’m very surprised really and quite pleased. It was out of the blue. We didn’t know anything about it as it was kept such a secret.

“We’re certainly looking forward to the national final. It’s a privilege really.”

For their efforts, Stephen and Frances won a £50 gift voucher and a chocolate hamper, and they could win £1,000 if they take the national award too.

Stephen said: “We’ve not spent the voucher yet, and I’ve no idea what we’d spend £1,000 on.

“We’ve been very good and not started on the chocolate yet.”

In his entry, Cameron, nine, said he and his brother Thomas, seven, both pupils at Grangetown Primary School, had the “best grandparents in the world”.

Salvation Army ministers Stephen and Frances stepped in to help after Cameron’s parents separated and his mother Rachel fell prey to depression.

Cameron said: “They really looked after me when mummy was sad and needed to rest.

“They take us on holiday every year, and we stayed with them for three months when we were waiting to move into our new house.”

Frances has since helped Rachel set up a charity called the Living Way, designed to counsel single mothers, and Stephen says it is going well.

The Super Grandparent Awards are organised by Care for the Family, a national charity devoted to strengthening families across the country.

The charity’s founder, Rob Parsons, said: “The Super Grandparent Awards offer an opportunity to celebrate grandparents who have made an amazing contribution to family life and give them the recognition they deserve. Although the standard of entries was incredibly high, Stephen and Frances stood out as exceptionally proactive and selfless grandparents.

“They stepped in during a family crisis, providing emotional as well as practical support to their child and grandchildren. Throughout all this, they held the family together and never stopped smiling,”

The winners will be announced on November 23.