A terminally ill Wigan Youth Zone chief says he wants its further expansion and more charity work to close a funding gap to be his legacy.
Businessman Bernard Edmunds has been given just months to live after being diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor, but today joined the Wigan Observer in what he called a “relaunch” of the town centre boys’ and girls’ club as it approaches its fifth anniversary.
The 71-year-old grandfather admits that the Youth Zone, which has had to cut back on staff and faces a £150,000 annual shortfall, hasn’t been as good as it might in pushing itself forward as far as getting folk to fund-raise for it.
And that has been compounded by several factors:
A lot of people forget that it’s a charity
A lot of people think it is permanently bankrolled by three of the richest men in Wigan - Dave Whelan, Bill Ainscough and Martin Ainscough - when it isn’t
It faces a tough local charity market: high-profile causes and strong professional sports club backing vye successfully for local people’s and businesses’ donations
A lot of people perhaps think it is simply a leisure centre with a climbing wall and don’t realise it is helping to enrich and turn round the lives of many local children
Mr Edmunds knows that time isn’t on his side and wants to see a quick upturn in funding fortunes as well as increasing the number of youngsters on the Parson’s Walk venue’s books from the current 6,000 members.
Having previously beaten prostate cancer years ago - and raised £600,000 for the related charity Men Matters in the process - Mr Edmundson went for a scan last year after an optician told him that he might have suffered a stroke.
He added: “The scan showed that I hadn’t had a stroke, but what I did have was a golf ball-sized brain tumor. Five days later and I underwent surgery to have as much of it removed as possible, but it’s the most aggressive kind and is incurable. I was given 15 months back in November.
“I am currently on a break from hefty courses of chemo and radiotherapy which might be able to hold it up a bit, but there’s no telling how much time I’ve got left.
“I have come to terms with dying and now focusing on making the most of things. My daughter has brought forward her wedding to June because of my illness although I’ve already recorded my speech just in case...
“But I am also focusing on the Youth Zone about whose work I am passionate.
“It is in no danger of closing, it has thousands of members but it needs more funding each year. We need £1.7m annually to run the place."
Read the full interview in this week's Wigan Observer ...