Sandy’s right royal honour

Sandy’s right royal honour

Sandy De Luca has been named a finalist in the Women Changing The World Awards.

An Armadale local has been announced as one of the women who are changing the world.

Sandy De Luca puts her whole heart into everything she does – she can’t help it.

She’s an accomplished self-taught artist, brilliant cook of Masterchef fame, and co-owner of a thriving small business; in 2021 she was nominated for the AusMumpreneur awards, which celebrate and acknowledge the outstanding achievements of Aussie mums in small business.

But her real forte is bringing people together.

“I’m a gatherer – it makes me happy putting people together,” she said.

“I’ve always been the one to organise the get-togethers, the parties.”

With a long career working in the homelessness sector with domestic violence survivors, Sandy understands how important having social connections can be.

The federal government’s 2022 Ending Loneliness Together report described social isolation and loneliness as one of the most pressing public health priorities in Australia today.

So together with her partner – award-winning cartoonist and illustrator Peter Player – she set up a community hub for ‘art, friendship, and food’ in the heart of Armadale.

Creative Soul Sessions opened at the Challis Shops in May last year and has quickly grown a solid local fan-base.

Above the art bar hangs a sign gifted to the pair by a customer which reads: ‘this is my happy place’.

“That’s what I always hoped it would be for people,” Sandy smiles.

“I wanted to create somewhere people feel safe to come to, regardless of who they are, or how they fit into society,” she said.

“Making people feel seen and welcome is so important to me.”

It’s clear that people are finding joy and a feeling of belonging in the eclectic shed space.

Children rush in excitedly for their art lessons, while others relax at the art bar while trying their hand at paint pouring or other novel artistic.

A growing collection of budding creators arrange their wares for sale for a nominal fee, commission-free. And those who want to create something, but are struggling financially, are welcome to join in on collaborative craft projects at the community table – cost-free.

“Sandy and Pete are two amazing people that are inspiring and passionate about what they do and you can truly tell they’re here to make a difference through art,” visitor Haylee Percy said.

“They’re always trying to support artists and they are always giving back to the community in some way.

“I’ve never felt so welcome and so comfortable in an environment that is so positive and freeing. Creative Soul Sessions is by far the most phenomenal and heart-warming place to be, make mistakes, laugh, try again, give everything and anything a go, and keep going.”

With glowing reviews like this, it’s not hard to see how Sandy was recently announced as a finalist in the Local Community Business category of the Women Changing the World Awards – although, Sandy has had a hard time comprehending the honour which came about from an anonymous nomination.

“I thought it was a scam when I first received the email congratulating me on being named a finalist,” she said.

“It’s a global thing, and I’m like ‘yeah right, little old me in Armadale’.”

The Women Changing the World Awards is a global program recognising the work of outstanding women who make a positive difference in the world. Hosted by Sarah Duchess of York and Dr. Tererai Trent, a women’s empowerment ambassador, the awards seek to

to “elevate, celebrate, connect and support women in their journey as changemakers, trailblazers and leaders”.

Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in London on May 25.

With the first birthday of Creative Soul Sessions looming, Sandy won’t be jet setting to the UK for the summit and awards ceremony – “I don’t even have a passport,” she said.

She says being nominated and named a finalist is recognition enough.

“I don’t care if I win – to me, I’ve already won,” she said. “Although it would be pretty funny to have Fergie read out my name.

“Thank you to whoever it was that nominated me.”

But Pete is gunning for win.

“If it was based on pure effort, it’d be hers already,” he said.

“She’s the driver of the business – she works her butt off. And she’s got some brilliant ideas – things I couldn’t even contemplate. She amazes me every day.

“This is thoroughly well-deserved and I think she’s got a real good chance of winning.”