Widower's poignant fundraising bid

HE has toured with soul legend Dionne Warwick, shared drinks with Sammy Davis Jr and recorded one of Jimi Hendrix's most famous hits even before the great man himself.

Laurence Cawley

HE has toured with soul legend Dionne Warwick, shared drinks with Sammy Davis Jr and recorded one of Jimi Hendrix's most famous hits even before the great man himself.

But one of Kenny Bernard's favourite songs is also the most personal and poignant. In the months before his wife Doreen lost her brave battle against cancer, the couple wrote a song together entitled You Came Into My Life.

Then - just a day before Doreen lost her life at the age of 64 - the CD arrived at the couple's home in Thetford.


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Mr Bernard is now trying to raise money for the Bury St Edmunds-based St Nicholas Hospice Care, where his wife was treated during her last few months.

He said: “The song means so much to me, but I haven't been able to sing it again yet. It is about my wife and our time together. Before she died, I asked her whether I should send it to a record producer or keep it for us.

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“But she wants me to send it for the sake of our grandchildren.”

In the 1960s, Mr Bernard regularly performed at various top London night spots including the Ad Lib Club in the West End and the Playboy Club in Mayfair.

He said: “I met so many famous people while playing in the clubs in London during the 1960s - it was like a who's who.

“I would perform in front of big stars - like Sammy Davis Jr - but I was never nervous, probably because of my age. Nowadays, if I had to perform in front of them, I would be scared stiff.”

Though admitting he is a “nearly man” of music, Mr Bernard said he had no regrets, only great memories.

He recalled: “I was working at a factory in Thetford when my wife said Dionne Warwick's agent had called. It led to me opening her show for a week with a 30-piece band.

“Obviously they didn't come to see me, but the whole thing was fantastic. Then there was another time when I was given this record 'Hey Joe'. I had never heard anything like it, I thought it was great.

“I was told to change it to 'Hey Woman' and I recorded it. But the next thing I know it was given to Jimi Hendrix's manager and the rest is history.”

He is now using his music skills to raise money for the hospice in memory of his late wife. Mrs Bernard was well-known in their home town where she had worked for 30 years. She contracted stomach cancer and was cared for at St Nicholas Hospice Care before she died on May 19.

Mr Bernard, 65, said: “I wanted to raise money for the Hospice as the staff who treated Doreen were exceptionally good and helped as much as they could.”

He has already raised �1,400 during a performance at the ex-servicemen's club in Thetford and he hopes to raise still more through further performances of his own songs, which include the popular Big Panty Woman, and cover classics from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley.

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