Tributes paid to Sandi, a ‘beautiful human being’

Friends and family gather to remember woman who was the beating heart of the community

Friday, 18th February — By Anna Lamche

Sandi Members of Elthorne Pride and The Big Local at celebration service

Members of Elthorne Pride and The Big Local at Sandi’s celebration service

FAMILY, friends and neighbours gathered last week to celebrate the life of a “beautiful human being” who made “massive and lasting change” to her community.

Sandra Grace Phillips, better known as Sandi to her many friends, neighbours and colleagues, was remembered as “fun-loving, caring, generous with her time and very supportive” at her celebration service on Thursday.

Ms Phillips died on Boxing Day after a battle with Covid-19. A crowd wearing black and gold congregated at St John’s Evangelist Church in Upper Holloway to sing hymns and pay tribute to her life.

Family and friends celebrated her as a “stylish, sophisticated” woman with an “infectious smile,” who loved dancing, travelling and taking photographs.

Born in Hackney in 1964, Ms Phillips was “extremely popular” at school, her brother-in-law Sal-Adin Ishmael said, before setting out on a long and illustrious career working with a range of organisations from the Borough of Camden to the NHS.

She also founded the Windrush Nurses and Beyond Foundation in 2011 to highlight the contribution of people from the Caribbean and the African continent to the formation of the NHS.

Mr Ishmael said “Sandi was a dynamic and motivational leader” who was “passionate about bringing people together,” and made “massive and lasting change” to her community.

Sandi Phillips shows her musical side

In the north of the borough, Ms Phillips will long be remembered as the beating heart of Elthorne Pride, a neighbourhood organisation that won £1million of ­lottery funding to invest in Elthorne estate, where she lived.

Chair of the organisation since 2016, Ms Phillips oversaw the board meetings and kept on top of which tasks needed to be done. She was also involved in the tenant housing co-op.

“She was very much a visionary, and so passionate about seeing a difference within the community,” said Donaleen Johnson, Elthorne Pride’s youth manager, who worked closely with Ms Phillips to help young people in the area.

Together they ran homework clubs, a summer school and took young people on a six-week kayaking course at Islington Boat Club, leaving them with two certificates.

Ms Phillips also paid special attention to the community’s elders, organising tea parties, bingo evenings and regular virtual activities such as quizzes during lockdown.

“She did a prolific amount of work – her energy was tireless,” said Michelle Sawh, Elthorne Pride’s events coordinator. “She was always invited everywhere, and she had a flair for organising events,” she said.

“Whenever she’d put something on for Elthorne, nothing was too good for the residents. She never wanted it to look like an institutionalised event.

“All the details were covered, all the bells and whistles were there. It was always a memorable occasion for everybody,” she said.

At the celebration service, Islington’s Mayor Troy Gallagher, who used to work with Ms Phillips, remembered her “goodness, love and compassion,” adding: “her legacy lives on through you, and through us”.

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