Clare Sandford obituary

My colleague Clare Sandford, who has died of cancer aged 39, was a key figure at Beanstalk, the children’s literacy charity. Clare joined Beanstalk in 2011 and set up the children’s reading scheme from scratch in County Durham. She recruited and trained many volunteers to help children in primary schools on a one-to-one basis to improve their reading.

A year ago, Clare was promoted to the new post of area manager for the north-east and Yorkshire. Her passion and commitment for the work of Beanstalk were constant. Those who worked closely with Clare know that she was driven to achieve, never accepting second best, but always very considerately. Although modest about her own achievements, she was very proud of her team’s collective success.

She had good reason: last year, the north-east and Yorkshire Beanstalk team, under Clare’s inspirational leadership and management, achieved an amazing 54% growth in numbers of reading helpers and children supported. Today there are 2,800 volunteers nationwide supporting 8,000 children in 1,200 schools.

Daughter of Dave Sandford and his wife, Margaret (nee Elgie), an administrator for Beanstalk, Clare was born and grew up in Darlington, attending Red Hill primary school and secondary school at Longfield. She left school at 16, and her first full-time job was in the housing department at Darlington borough council. Away from work, she was a keen gardener and an animal lover. She married twice, setting up home first in Darlington, and then in the nearby village of Aycliffe; her second marriage was dissolved this year.

She is survived by her parents, her daughters, Emma and Elizabeth, and her brother, Christopher.

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