Sandra Howard, charity founder

Sandra Howard
Sandra Howard
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Sandra Howard, who has died at 63 following a cancer diagnosis, spent the last months of her life persuading people to donate to the epilepsy charity she had founded and which has in the last two decades raised £3.8m for those living with epilepsy.

Ms Howard had set up the charity, Fable, after her son, Gareth, was diagnosed as having the condition. By the age of 15 he was having between 15 and 20 seizures on most days.

It was after watching Tomorrow’s World on TV that she began fundraising.

The programme had covered an operation that involved an implant which either reduced the number of seizures or the severity of them, with the possibility of eventually eliminating them.

She hoped that her son would be a suitable candidate, but discovered that the device was not available on the NHS in her home city of Sheffield.

With the help of family and friends, she set about raising the £5,500 needed to pay for the implant and surgical costs. Just as she reached her target, the manufacturer stepped in and offered to donate an implant.

Deciding that the money she had raised could benefit someone else, Ms Howard founded Fable, the name taken from a friend’s creative acronym “for a better life with epilepsy”.

She was honoured many times for her work, and was the first recipient of the Pride of Britain “fundraiser of the year” award in 1995, following which the actress Barbara Windsor became one of Fable’s patrons.

In 2005, she was one of 100 people in South Yorkshire to be awarded a commemorative medal by Sheffield University, in acknowledgement of outstanding achievement. It was followed in 2006 by the Order of the League of Mercy.

Her friend, Sarah Osborne Green, who has worked for Fable for 18 years and will continue the charity’s work, said Ms Howard “had suffered terribly” in the last 12 months but had never once complained.

“She took it on the chin,” she said.