Gogglebox stars Leon and June honoured with memorial bench at Strawberry Field

“Inspirational teachers who found fame as pensioners”

A new memorial bench has been installed to honour Liverpool stars of Channel 4’s Gogglebox, Leon and June Bernicoff, who have both passed away.

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 Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field based in Woolton.

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.

Leon passed away in 2017, and his wife, June, sadly died in 2020. The pair were much-loved members of the original Gogglebox line-up and enjoyed 60 years of marriage.

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.”

Gogglebox’s Leon and June’s family with Strawberry Field’s Adele Murphy (Employment Development Co-ordinator) sat on the memorial bench.

Major Kathleen Versfeld, mission director at Strawberry Field, explained why Leon and June were so special. She said: “Through their work as teachers, Leon and June provided hundreds of local children with vital opportunities through education.

“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.”