‘Blackpool did Bernie proud at her funeral’

Brian looking through the Gazette photographs
Brian looking through the Gazette photographs
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If there’s one thing Brian Nolan has in abundance it is pictures.

Pointing to a book case in his South Shore home he said: “We are a family that loves pictures, we always have been.

“I literally have thousands upon thousands. Those dozens of photo albums up there are chocka block of pictures of the family and the girls performing.

“I would go as far as far to say as I have that many photos it would be impossible to look at them all.”

Taking a wander through The Gazette’s archive Brian has said he is looking for a special picture that captures the spirit of his late sister Bernie, to put up in his home.

Brave Bernie, 52, died on July 4, after a long fight with cancer, with her family at her side.

As well as her sisters Coleen, Linda, Denise, Anne and Maureen, stars turned out in force for her funeral at Blackpool’s Opera House including Shane Ritchie, Roy Walker, Cannon and Ball and the cast of Chicago.

Thousands of her fans also lined the streets of the resort up to pay their respects.

Brian said: “Blackpool did Bernie proud at her funeral.

“The outpouring of love we felt was just absolutely amazing. There were far more people there than we ever could of imagined.

“She had a lot of homegrown fans in attendance as well as all those people who had travelled from all over the country.

“I am searching for a special picture of Bernie. I haven’t found it yet but I will.

“I want a shot of her doing what she did best either singing or acting and I want to have it mounted on canvass.

“I don’t want anything too big but I thought that would be a nice touch and a way I know she will be with me everyday.”

In a bid to help Brian find that special picture, The Gazette opened up it’s archive and showcased the very pictures that have marked many of the milestone moments in Bernie’s life.

He said: “Bernie would of absolutely have loved looking through these pictures and reminiscing.

“She loved old pictures. She wasn’t precious about having her picture taken. Obviously, she was professional and wanted things to be right but if the picture was unflattering she would never demand it wasn’t used.”

Sifting through the hundreds of photos Gazette photographers have taken of the Nolan family over the years, Brian said many captured Bernie’s “buzz bomb personality.”

He said: “Bernie was always the one out of the eight of us that just could not sit still.

“She would always be doing things or thinking about what else she could be doing.

“Whenever she couldn’t keep still at home my dad would turn to her and say ‘Bernadette’ and she would giggle.

“If the girls were having a break from the band to have children Bernie would always be trying and pursue her acting.”

Grabbing a copy of the album artwork used for the The Nolan’s album Epic, Brian said: “This is my favourite, look at Bernie she looks so moody. She didn’t like this. She always preferred a smile.”

Looking at the older photos of Bernie, Brian said: “These pictures are fantastic they are real memories here. I’m sure the other girls would love to see them too.

“I can’t get over how long Bernie’s hair seems in some of these old shots.

“She would of loved some of these ones from the 1990’s – she would be pleased with how slim she looked.”

Picking a selection of his favourites, Brian is now creating a shortlist of pictures that may make it on to his special canvass.

He added: “I hope people enjoy looking at these pictures as much I have.

“These are my favourites. Every picture can tell a story.”

Bernie lives on through charity fund-raising

Bernie Nolan’s chosen charity, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, has set up a Tribute Fund in honour. 
As a treasured ambassador to the charity, Bernie tirelessly championed Breakthrough’s TLC (Touch Look Check) campaign to raise breast awareness and, after being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2012, she continued to urge people to support Breakthrough’s research to stop other women facing this devastating disease.
Steve Doneathy, Bernie’s husband, said: “It is incredibly hard for myself and our daughter Erin these days.
“However, if Bernie’s wonderful spirit can be used to help in the future, that would bring some comfort to us. 
“Bernie believed that Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s research was crucial and it’s reassuring to think she is still in people’s thoughts, and making a difference to people’s experience with this terrible disease.”
Around 1,000 women die from breast cancer each month in the UK.
Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “Bernie was a truly inspirational woman who became a cherished part of the Breakthrough family.
“It’s no exaggeration to say Bernie’s commitment to this cause and the exposure she gave it have already helped to save lives. 
“The Bernie Nolan Tribute Fund will honour, and help continue, her inspirational work in the fight against breast cancer.”
For more information about the Bernie Nolan Tribute Fund, visit breakthrough.org.uk/bernienolan.
* Details can also be found in her biography, Now and Forever, which is released today.