A room at Wigan Youth Zone is to be dedicated to board member Bernard Edmunds for his tireless efforts with the charity.
Bernard, a long-time supporter and friend of Wigan Youth Zone, has committed five years to the charity, offering substantial help with organisational strategy, fund-raising and advice to the team, even in the face of a life-limiting health diagnosis.
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Since first joining the board in 2014, Bernard, 72, has been consistently supportive of the Youth Zone. One of his main areas of involvement was fund-raising, Bernard helped organise the WYZ team 10k challenge, running the race himself in 2017.
He also supported many of the large scale events, compering at the Reet Good Festival and Wigan Youth Zone’s quarterly business breakfasts, as well as helping source speakers from his network of contacts.
His passion for the charity has never wavered, attending all Youth Zone board meetings, offering frequent catch ups with staff, providing a sounding board and advice whether it came to fund-raising, events or marketing.
A true friend of staff and volunteers – Bernard often treats the WYZ team to lunches and evenings out.
Bernard said: “Part of my role was to create a positive atmosphere among the staff and young people – to make sure we get the very best out of everyone.”
A personal contributor to the funding of the Youth Zone, Bernard has sponsored new initiatives and donated frequently to the young person’s charity including the launch of the Youth Zone’s mascot in 2018 – Jaguar Jeff, a firm favourite amongst younger members.
Last year Bernard’s Wish was also launched, a one-off appeal in his name that raised £25,000 to support members with additional needs.
In 2017, Bernard’s personal circumstances changed with a shock diagnosis of an incurable brain tumour. Supported by his partner Sarah and family, Bernard faced the diagnosis with strength and bravery.
Despite his deteriorating health, Bernard’s support of the Youth Zone has remained strong – continuing to attend board meetings, offer advice and keep in touch with the team.
Martin Ainscough CBE, founder patron of Wigan Youth Zone, said of Bernard’s unrelenting enthusiasm for the charity: “He has been an enormous help and close friend to me over the last five years.
“He is not someone who avoids difficult issues that need to be addressed and has frequently challenged me and the other board members to make his point.
“His passion for the Youth Zone cannot be better demonstrated than in the past year, when even in the depths of his dreadful illness, he has continued to work behind the scenes to improve our offer and raise vital funds for the future running of the Youth Zone.”
To mark his official retirement from the board, the Youth Zone has decided to dedicate one of its popular members’ areas to Bernard.
The Enterprise and Employability room offers Get a Job courses to 16-24 year olds looking for their first steps into the working world, as well as support to members who show entrepreneurial flair with the ‘Young Enterprise’ programme – a perfect choice for Bernard’s legacy.
Anthony Ashworth-Steen, WYZ executive director, said: “When I first met Bernard I was blown away by his energy and enthusiasm, not to mention all the time and effort he put into the organisation.
“Bernard has had a hugely positive impact, not just at a board level but with the staff too – he is a regular visitor for ‘chippy teas’ where he will always listen to the team and offer his advice and support.
“We have all learnt a huge amount from his can-do attitude and vision for positive change.
“As a small token of all our appreciation for Bernard, we will be dedicating our Enterprise and Employability room to him, an aspect of the Youth Zone he really connected with; this will include a picture of him accompanied by his words of wisdom for generations to come.
“A fitting legacy, for a wonderfully inspirational person.”
While Bernard’s condition has left him immobile, he has promised to continue to support the charity for as long as he’s able.
When asked what the Youth Zone meant to him, Bernard said: “I tell everyone that not only does Wigan Youth Zone change young people’s lives, but it’s changed my life too.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what I’ve helped achieve there – and its inspirational family of supporters, volunteers and staff that I’ve shared many happy years with.”