Not for Profit

“Stevie would be proud" says father as sport foundation in his son's honour nears £500,000

Tony Bernard with a picture of his son, Stevie. “Everything which has been achieved has been guided by Stevie’s memory," said Tony. Picture: Dorset Biz News.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: August 23, 2020 | Updated: 20th March 2022

“The pain never goes away. You just have to learn to live with it.”

The words of father Tony Bernard.

It’s 15 years ago this November that Tony and his wife, Sue, experienced what every parent dreads.

A knock on the door just after midnight.

A police officer standing outside.

And the words: “Your son – or daughter – has been involved in a car accident.”

Talented sportsman Steve Bernard – known to friends and family as Stevie B – had just started a sports course at Chichester University.

He died, along with two of his friends, in a road accident on the A27 just outside Chichester.

Stevie was 18.

Tony said: “It’s a bit like you’ve been hit by a sledgehammer only you’ve been injured inside and not on the outside.”

But from tragedy has come inspiration and pride.

Because a charitable foundation set up in Stevie’s honour is now just £20,000 short of raising an amazing half a million pounds.

And more than 400 sporting projects – covering over 30 sports and spanning four continents – have been helped.

“Stevie would be proud. He always had a good heart,” said Tony.

It was the outpouring of love, affection and donations at Stevie’s funeral that led to the idea of establishing the foundation.

More than 1,200 people attended to pay their respects to the former Bournemouth School student who had a passion for sport, including playing for Christchurch FC.

“It was quite amazing. Stevie was even more popular than we thought,” said Tony, 63, who has been married to Sue for 34 years.

The couple, who live in Winton, have a second son, Jacques, aged 28.

The Steve Bernard Foundation was officially launched in February 2006, just three months after Stevie’s death.

It is run entirely by volunteers and offers guidance, financial support and predominantly equipment to a range of good causes.

The seven trustees include Tony, as Chair, Sue, Jacques and four of the people who knew him well including his best friend Craig Mathie, Managing Director of Bournemouth 7s Festival.

Among the six patrons are netballer Geva Mentor CBE, current and ex-footballers Adam Lallana and Jody Craddock and Bill Temple of Primera Sports.

The 400-plus projects helped by the foundation have mainly centred on Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex.

They range from a £50 single piece of equipment to £30,000 for the refurbishment of the fitness facilities at Liveability’s Victoria School in Poole.

Even during the lockdown the foundation has continued to make a difference with 17 projects helped.

Tony, who works as a Highways Inspector for BCP Council, said: “I get a great sense of pride when I see what we’re doing out in the community.

“It chokes you up sometimes.

“We like people to help themselves as well as get support from us.

“Often it’s the smallest pieces of equipment that make the biggest difference.”

Fundraising for the foundation comes in many forms from donations to its own organised events with cycling featuring large.

July 24 to August 10 should have seen a high profile fundraiser with a 22-strong team cycling 1,006 miles in ten days from Bilbao in Spain to Faro in Portugal.

Of course, Covid-19 put paid to ‘It’s Too Faro’ but the riders were not to be thwarted.

Instead they rode the distance between themselves in Dorset and – despite bad weather – raised £1,190, about a tenth of what the actual event would have brought in.

Tony said: “We are so fortunate to have so many volunteers and supporters who give their time freely.

“But we also have fun raising the money.

“Stevie believed strongly in playing with a smile on his face.

“He had an infectious personality and, as well as a passion for sport, a passion for helping people.

“Everything which has been achieved has been guided by Stevie’s memory.

“I think he would be very proud with what we’re doing in his name.”

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