Tributes pour in for ‘incredible’ Sandie

FAMILY, colleagues and friends have hailed the “incredible legacy” of foster mum and councillor Sandie Davis.

Sandie died on June 8, less than three months after being diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer.

Sandie’s husband Jim said she was a pioneer of “standing up for people with disabilities”.

A South Gloucestershire councillor, charity trustee and school governor, it was Sandie’s personal dedication to improving life for people with disabilities as an adoptive and foster parent that brought her national recognition.

Born in London in 1954, Sandie started nursing after leaving home at 16 and moved to Northampton, where she and Jim met, for her training.

She specialised in the care of disabled children but became disillusioned with the hospital practices of the time, which she described as “changing nappies all day”.

She and Jim, a police officer, married in 1974 and started a family, having three children – Louise, Charley and Liam – between 1976 and 1984.

They then started fostering, and soon decided to adopt. Jim says they were drawn to children with Down’s syndrome and adopted three – Kate and Jamie, who now live independently near the family home, and Jack, who also had cerebral palsy and died in 2013. They adopted a fourth child, Darren, who has the progressive genetic condition myotonic dystrophy.

Jim said: “Back in the 70s and 80s, people with a disability were just dismissed and shut away.

“We both felt that just because somebody’s got a disability, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be treated the same as everybody else.”

Over the years Sandie and Jim fostered around 35 children, from a baby who was brought straight from the hospital at five hours old to a teenager who arrived with only a carrier bag containing three pairs of odd socks.

Moving to Downend in the late 1980s, they set up a youth group and the Sticky Fish playgroup at their house in Overnhill Road.

The family moved to Emersons Green in 2000, while Sandie was undergoing successful cancer treatment.

She supported Incredible Kids, a Bristol charity for families of children with disabilities, from its foundation 12 years ago, becoming a trustee in 2017.

In a tribute on its website the Incredible Kids website said Sandie “genuinely cared about improving the support for disabled children and challenged the status quo”, and had left an “incredible legacy”.

She had helped the charity and its services survive through the pandemic, even when she was unable to leave home herself.

The charity said: “Without Sandie’s unwavering support, Incredible Kids would not have reached its current success. Thanks to her, 6500 individuals from Bristol and beyond have found a place where they are accepted, welcomed, and understood.”

Sandie, who had six grandchildren, was also a trustee for Keynsham Mencap, and a governor at Warmley Park special school and St Stephen’s Junior School in Soundwell.

She was elected as a Labour councillor for South Gloucestershire’s New Cheltenham ward in 2019, stepping down in March because of her illness.

Fellow ward councillor Matt Palmer said: “Sandie Davis was a fantastic councillor who was conscientious, helpful and thoughtful to every single person that needed her help.

“The world has lost an incredible, kind, loving and honest woman.”

Sandie’s dedication was recognised with awards including the Caron Keating Foundation’s Inspirational Mother award in 2014 and Parent Carer of the Year at the 2022 Include Awards.

Sandie began to feel unwell last autumn and, after delays in being able to see a GP, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer the day before the couple’s golden wedding anniversary in March.

Jim and Sandie had planned some special holidays to celebrate their anniversary year. Instead, Sandie had to move in to St Peter’s Hospice the day before her 70th birthday.

They held the party they had planned for the family at the hospice. Rather than asking for presents, Sandie set up an online JustGiving fundraiser for Incredible Kids and encouraged people to donate.

The donation page can be found at and had raised £870 as the Voice went to press.
Sandie died less than two weeks after her birthday.

Since then Jim has received an overwhelming number of messages showing love and appreciation, including from people Sandie had never met.

Jim said: “She said she was quite happy she’d achieved everything she wanted to achieve.

“She had a remarkable life, and her family is her legacy.”