"The entire family are devastated to have lost beloved Bernie, a wonderful wife, adoring mother and loving sister. She is irreplaceable." - The Nolans

Bernie Doneathy (Nolan) 17th October 1960 - 04th July 2013

Bernie starred as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers from 1998-2000 and wowed the West End critics with her brilliant performances. Anyone who has seen Blood Brothers will know that the musical starts (unusually) with the final scene. Then the storyline evolves and we learn the history that took us to that point in time.

When I was thinking about the design of this website it became more and more obvious that this tribute to one of entertainment's greatest stars should also begin with the last scene and then try to explain on the subsequent pages how we reached this tragic ending. I'm sure Willy Russell will not mind me using his original idea as Bernie brought to life his own vision of the poor Liverpudlian mother, a part that showcased her amazing talent as a singer and as an actress.

Bernie was first diagnosed with cancer in April 2010 & had chemotherapy and a mastectomy, before receiving the all clear in February 2012. However months later the disease returned and in October 2012 Bernie announced publicly that the cancer had returned and was incurable. The disease had now spread to her brain, bones, lungs and liver. 

After being told her cancer was terminal last year, Bernie remained defiant in the face of the disease, telling The Mirror newspaper that the cancer 'can get stuffed'. She told the press that while she knew the cancer was untreatable, it was also possible for some people to live for more than a decade on medication, and she had high hopes for what medical discoveries could be made in the coming years. Sadly, as we now know Bernie passed away on 4th July 2013 after a long fight against cancer.

Bernie's positive attitude to her illness, her openness and her willingness to discuss it publicly brought comfort to many other sufferers and her message to others to 'get checked at the doctors' undoubtedly saved lives. We have had so many letters and emails thanking Bernie for the  suggestion and as a result numerous people have been diagnosed early.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer has set up the Bernie Nolan Tribute Fund to honour the star’s wonderful spirit and selfless dedication to the charity’s vital work. As a treasured ambassador to the charity, Bernie selflessly and 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 and their families from facing this devastating disease. 

Please look at the following pages and see what a wonderful life Bernie enjoyed - despite the tragically short time she was with us. The pages are arranged in a chronological order touching on Bernie's Nolans career, but with the emphasis on her solo career and then her battle against illness. 

You will begin to learn what a fantastic person she was, in addition to the gifts she left for us in the world of performing arts. She was unique and we miss her but her memory lives on.  

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