The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field has installed a new memorial bench to honour the late Liverpool stars of Channel 4’s Gogglebox, Leon and June Bernicoff.
Unveiled at a small ceremony, attended by Leon and June’s family, including their daughters, Helen Hunter and Julie Bernicoff, the bench will be a permanent feature at the award-winning visitor attraction based in Woolton, Liverpool.
Leon and June, who became overnight stars thanks to the popular reality show, were both passionate teachers who taught at nearby Gateacre School, including a number of children who lived at the former Salvation Army children’s home at Strawberry Field. They also regularly visited the site with their own children over the years including bonfire night and Christmas celebrations.
The bench was designed and made by Peter Lavin, a passionate carpenter and trainee on the Steps at Strawberry Field programme, an initiative which empowers and supports people with barriers to employment to achieve their goals of finding paid work. A gold plaque on the bench says, “In loving memory of our parents, grandparents Leon and June Bernicoff, for whom family meant everything. Inspirational teachers who found fame as pensioners.”
Helen Hunter, Leon and June’s daughter, said, “We were looking for somewhere nice to put a memorial for my mum and dad, and Strawberry Field was a natural choice as they both taught children from Strawberry Field when they were teachers at Gateacre School.
“They were always very focused on supporting underprivileged children and helping them to make a success of their lives through education, so when we found out about the Steps to Work programme it all fitted into what type of legacy we’d like to leave on behalf of my mum and dad.”
Major Kathleen Versfeld, mission director at Strawberry Field, said, “Through their work as teachers, Leon and June provided hundreds of local children with vital opportunities through education. Our Steps at Strawberry Field programme today helps young people to access employment so it seems fitting that their memory should live on here at Strawberry Field, a place they often visited. It was a privilege for our trainee Peter to be given the opportunity to craft a bespoke bench for the family.
“We were delighted to fulfil the wishes of Leon and June’s family and are grateful for their generous donation to support our work. Their memorial bench is a wonderful new addition to our gardens for the local community and visitors to enjoy.”
Located at the site of a former Salvation Army children’s home immortalised by John Lennon in The Beatles’ hit, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, Strawberry Field is a new award-winning visitor attraction just outside Liverpool.