The founder of Belper’s Drop-Inn youth centre has been nominated for a top honour at a star-studded Daily Mail Awards night.
Andrea Fox, 52, was put forward for the Inspirational Woman of the Year accolade by her mother Edna and went on to win the voting support of readers of the national newspaper.
As part of her recognition, Andrea and four other finalists will attend a private lunch with the PM’s wife Samantha Cameron at 10 Downing Street.
Andrea will then be whisked off to the red carpet ceremony to enjoy Champagne with stars including Carol Vorderman, Gloria Huniford, Darcey Bussell and the stars of TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.
The ceremony, hosted by Emma Forbes, is taking place at the glitzy ballroom of the Marriot Hotel in London’s Grosvenor Square.
Held in association with the iconic Sanctuary Spa, the awards will benefit Wellbeing of Women, a charity dedicated to changing the lives and improving the health of women and babies.
Andrea said: “It was a big surprise to be nominated. I thought it was somebody winding me up at first. But then they said they wanted to interview me and do a makeover.
“I’m really pleased and proud about it and I’m so excited to be attending the awards night. To be one of five national finalists is prize enough for me.”
Andrea’s story began in 1999 when she was frustrated with the increasing amount of complaints about teenage behaviour in the area; damage was being done to the Memorial Gardens and the local community was getting fed up.
Taking a direct approach, Andrea reached out to the local teenagers doing the damage to ask what it was they wanted. The response was unanimous and immediate, they needed somewhere to go.
Andrea decided to set up a safe place where they could meet up, stay out of trouble and even receive a bit of education. A local businessman offered a basement under his premises and with only a couple of mugs and a kettle, The Drop Inn was born. Andrea persuaded local businesses to donate laptops, televisions and games and a local pub being refurbished donated benches, chairs and tables and on the opening night 80 teenagers turned up.
Twelve years on, more than 5,000 people have passed through Andrea’s hands and 417 have received training and accredited certificates.