Back in February 2006, a Valentines disco was organised by family and friends to celebrate the birthday of Stephen Bernard, a popular and multi-talented individual who tragically passed away in a car accident in November 2005, whilst studying to become a P.E teacher at Chichester University.
Over £2000 was raised from this event and with it the Steve Bernard Foundation was formed. The foundation was set up to support and fund sporting projects within Dorset and Hampshire to celebrate Stephen’s passion for sport. The amount of support offered to the Foundation for every fundraiser and event was testament to Stevie and since 2006 the Foundation has continued to grow and grow, breaking through barriers of physical and emotional endurance, completing harder fundraisers and reaching out to a much broader community.
Over the last year or so, the Foundation has really pushed forwards, with the toughest fundraiser being completed when 11 family and friends cycled from Lands End to John O’ Groats and then went on to climb the 3 Peaks. This event raised over £10,000 whilst the bi-annual Fancy Dress Fun Run on Bournemouth Beach in February raised over £2,500.The fund has been boosted by generous donations from Soccer Solutions, Queens Park Golf Club, Bournemouth and Poole College, and Avon Valley Skittles League which have all helped the Foundation to support sporting projects all over the world.
Individuals have also completed challenges, pushing their boundaries to the limits in events such as the London Marathon, where Paul Rideout, Jayne Steel and Jacques Bernard all completed the 26.2 mile course to raise funds for the Foundation, as well as Laura Radcliffe completing not one, but two skydives to commemorate her three friends who lost their lives in the accident 5 years ago.
This fundraising has allowed the Foundation to support a huge variety of projects. Football kits have been provided to AFC Bournemouth Disability Football team, Poole High, St. Aldhelms and Branksome Heath school whilst a Tricycle was bought for Charlotte Oxford who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. Furthermore £3,500 was donated to Oakmead Boxing Club to purchase a minibus to travel to competitions, as well as outreach projects where sporting kit and equipment has been provided to individuals doing charity work in Uganda, Mozambique and Zaire to name but a few. In June, the Foundation received £2,180 from a bike sportive organised by Primera which marked a huge milestone for the Steve Bernard Foundation, pushing the total raised past £150,000!
It is amazing that the foundation which was established to commemorate and celebrate the life of Stevie, with the aim of helping people with small sports projects, has now been transformed into a well-known local fund that brings together friends, family and the local community.
We have attracted high profile patrons from the sporting world with professional footballers Adam Lallana and Jody Craddock, local businessman and national rally driver Steve Hendy coming on board alongside the very popular and well known comedian Scott Charlton. To do all this in such a small space of time with all work being voluntary speaks volumes for the popularity of Stevie and with many plans and ideas ahead for future fundraisers and events, the Foundation is only going to continue to move forwards and get bigger.
We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone that has supported the Foundation in any way, for without the support and donations we wouldn’t have been able to reach this amazing amount of money to support such worthy sporting projects!