Achiever Of The Year

Heléne Griffiths of Granny Griff’s Sugar Shack Wins UWA Achiever of 2016 Title

Heléne Griffiths of Granny Griff’s Sugar Shack was named the UWA Achiever of the Year 2016 at an event held at the Gateway Hotel, Umhlanga, on 1 December 2016. Heléne was placed first out of a total of 22 applicants in the businesswomen’s competition. Runners up were Claudette Lingenfelder of Beauty Beyond by Claudette (second) and Kim Johnston of MDD (third).

UWA (Umhlanga Women’s Achievers) is a businesswomen’s networking organisation that meets monthly and supports a variety of charities. Heléne is a founder member and former president of the 22-year-old group so it is fitting that she should have been awarded the trophy. Applicants were judged based on various criteria including: any recognition received for outstanding entrepreneurship, innovation or promotion over the past 12 months; personal social responsibility activities over the past 12 months; motivation for inspiration and drive; and how the applicant contributed to UWA. Heléne’s present business is Granny Griff’s Sugar Shack, a coffee-shop-cum-meeting-place for cancer patients and their carers and for senior citizens. Funds from this Durban North-based shop go to Highway Hospice. Heléne’s own husband, Wally, passed away from cancer not so long ago so the enterprise is very dear to her heart and to his memory.

Heléne has had a very interesting working career, mostly in the motoring and journalism industries. She began in the 1970s as a rally driver and was one of the first female members to join the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists. She was one of the guild’s jury that selects the South African Car of the Year for 25 years. In June 2016 the guild honoured her with ‘Fellow’ status as she had ‘been a role model and inspiration to many other female motoring journalists’.


Heléne started a Public Relations and Promotions business in 1987 and in 1993 a community newspaper, The Umhlanga Globe. The publication was the first ever ‘good news/positive news’ newspaper and was twice placed in the Community Newspapers in the Country competition as well as in the Sanlam Community Newspaper competition.


Because the motoring world is perceived as a male domain, Heléne has, over the years, shared her motoring knowledge with other women by presenting motoring courses, a Women’s Motoring Forum, as well as a basic motoring course especially for women. She is also a public speaker and her topics range from motoring and motor safety to motivational talks. The latter includes one entitled ‘From wheelchair to businesswoman via motorsport’, a personal story. In 2001 Heléne, Wally and their youngest son, Roy, started a stand-alone motoring publication, Globe’nGearz, which became the first ‘pint-size’ full-colour A4 motoring newspaper. Four years later, due to the exorbitant printing costs for this unique newspaper, it was incorporated into The Umhlanga Globe.


Helene has always been very active on the community front. In 2003 she was the chairperson of the Beautifying Umhlanga Together Association. In 2010 she received the Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Club of Umhlanga. This award is one of the highest accolades Rotary can bestow on a person. Over the years Heléne has also been very involved in church work, serving as St Luke’s Congregational Church’s fête convenor, Sunday School Superintendent, deacon and lay-preacher.


Jeanné Vogel van der Sandt, UWA President for 2016 (and past winner of the UWA Achiever award), was delighted to have presented Heléne with her prize.

The next UWA meeting will be a morning meeting held on Wednesday 8 February at Gateway Hotel. Registration is from 7.30am and the meeting starts at 8am, ending promptly at 10.30am. Visit or e-mail for more information.








Helene Griffiths