The night I had dinner with Barbara Windsor

Sandra Howard.
Sandra Howard.

Sandra Howard, aged 57, is the founder trustee of epilepsy charity Fable, which was established in 1995. She is married to John and has two sons.

Elder son Gareth was the catalyst for the charity, and Sandra’s experiences have helped her to help others. She was the first recipient of the Pride of Britain fundraiser of the year in 1995, was one of 100 people in South Yorkshire to receive a commemorative medal for outstanding achievement by the University of Sheffield in 2005, and the Order of the League of Mercy in 2006. Sandra has been one of the Lord Mayor’s “Women of Inspiration”, gained a Lifetime Achievement Award at Sheffield’s Night of Honour and has been nominated for a High Sheriff award for volunteering.


I grew up in Broomhill and still go there. Even though it has changed, there is still so much there. There’s a great mix of pubs, places to eat, shops, the library, the infant school - I have fond memories of Broomhill Infant School. Fable even had an art gallery and coffee shop there for a few years opposite what used to be St Mark’s church hall,where I used to go for Sunday school and dance lessons. Now the building is flats.

Forge Dam

I spent many a time fishing with a net and a jam jar with string tied round the top when I was young. My sister and I used to see who could catch the most sticklebacks before having a picnic. Then we’d take the long walk through Forge Dam to Wire Mill Dam in to Bingham Park and finally through Endcliffe Park where we would cross the stepping stones and try not to fall in. The worst bit was the walk up Brocco Bank but once at the top it was not far to get home. I did it with my sons and now I intend to do this with my grand children.

Royal Victoria Holiday Inn

I love the history and grandeur. In 1995 we held a fundraising evening here and announced the launch of Fable. We have been back to celebrate anniversaries and have always been made to feel welcome. The ballroom is just right for grand occasions. At our 10th anniversary celebrations Barbara Windsor, who is one of Fable’s patrons, attended and stayed in the hotel. She had to ring to reception for a plug for the bath! She told me at dinner that it was not a problem, but she doubted that our Joanie (Joan Collins) would see it that way! But she did love the hotel.

Leopold Square

There are so many different smells in the square you could imagine yourself to be anywhere in the world. When the weather permits I do not think there is anything nicer than to sit out with friends having a nice drink or coffee. I love the water features, the variety, and it is hard to image it as the old education building.

Grenoside Crematorium

Strange choice, I know, and I have not been there that often, but if I had to choose somewhere to attend a funeral then this would be the place. I like the layout of the grounds, the large open windows of the chapels, the views across Sheffield. It is a calm and tranquil place. On the occasions I have attended a service there I have found myself looking out over Sheffield remembering with affection the departed one.

St Mark’s Church

The original church suffered in the Blitz. For many years only the tower and spire survived and it was a place we, as children, had many an adventure in. I remember watching the new church being built and imagining that one day I would walk down the aisle there. Some years later I did just that, as did my two sisters.

Granelli’s sweet shop

The shop in Broad Street still sells the same type of sweets it sold years ago. I called in recently with my dad, and I was so spoilt for choice that my exact words were: “I feel like a kid in a sweet shop”.

Crookes Valley Park / Dam House

Dam House restaurant was once one of the best places for a night out. After eating, there was a disco and if you sat gazing across the water you could imagine yourself to be anywhere - until a 95 bus went past! We always knew the park as the boating lake where one could hire a rowing boat or take a trip on the motor launch. It was a great place to fish and both my boys spent time there. Now I take my grand-daughter to the playground before feeding the ducks.