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Our Hero Awards

FOR nine years Sue Chandler has dedicated her time to helping youngsters with special needs and their parents. The 58-year-old is the chairman of the Special Educational Needs Support Group (SENSG) after founding the group in November 2006. In recognition of her hard work she has been put forward for a Sentinel Our Heroes award in the Volunteer of the Year category. Sue, of Mary Rose Close, Bucknall, said: "Being nominated for this award really took my breath away. "I didn't expect this, I do it for others and not for me. "It's great to see the parents and their children getting what they need." Kevin Healey, chairman of the Staffordshire Adult Autistic Society (SAAS), who put Sue forward for the honor, said: "I nominated Sue for her dedication and commitment as a volunteer and charity champion for the last nine years. "Sue truly needs to be acknowledged for all her hard work helping others and for putting them before herself." Hardworking Sue established SENSG after seeing the lack of support available to parents of children with special needs. She said: "The group's biggest achievement has been making these parents feel less alone. "We put on trips and social events for them. A lot of the time they feel that there's no-one to turn to. "Many of them are single parents because having a special needs child has put a strain on their relationship." As well as supporting the parents Sue also arranges outings for the young people, aged up to 25, including cinema trips, discos and bowling. Kevin said: "Sue is a very determined person and her heart is in the right place. "She has made a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of children and also their parents who are at the end of their tether. "Sue has made a real difference to the community and especially the city of Stoke-on-Trent." SENSG meet on a weekly basis at the Hope Children's Centre, in Garth Street, Hanley. This year Sue has also worked at SAAS as a conference manager and was responsible for the running of two large conferences. Prior to SENSG, Sue spent five years working as treasurer with the North Staffordshire Asperger and Autism Association. She also volunteered for Stoke-on-Trent City Council's parent partnership scheme. It was here that she met many of the people who inspired SENSG. During her time with the parent partnership Sue helped to support families with special needs children by liaison with their schools and also attending tribunals

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