Bernadette Lee, who died in the snow in January last year
The first anniversary of the death of tragic Bernadette Lee, who died in the snow last January, has brought a renewed plea for people to stay safe on nights out.
The appeal was made by Roger Lee, the father of the stunning 25-year old dental technician, as the family prepares to mark a year since she died on Monday.
He said: “When you go out, make sure you don’t have too much to drink like Bernadette did.
“Make sure you have got your mobile charged up with money on and wear a coat and something warm.”
In June an inquest heard how the The former Mongeham Primary and Walmer Science College pupil died of hypothermia brought on rapidly because she had consumed alcohol on a night out in Deal.
She was due to be staying with a friend in town, but when they got separated, she headed to her sister’s.
But her sister, Jodie Lee, was locked out. Bernadette waited without calling her but she collapsed and lost consciousness.
Mr Lee spoke of the impact of Bernadette’s death after her lifeless body was discovered in the snow by a dog walker on Sunday, January 20 last year.
“She was too young to go,” he said.
Tragic Bernadette Lee with her older sister Jodie Lee
“It has been terrible. I do my best to get by. I turn and see a young girl, or on an advert on TV and I think that could be Bernadette.”
Her friend Kayleigh Aldred added: “She is always in our thoughts and always in our hearts. When she went she took a chunk of our hearts. She is sorely missed by so many people.”
Mr Lee is trying to take Bernadette’s advice on how to live a happy life, like go out for drinks and book a holiday, but moving on is hard for him.
“I’ve got a photograph of her in my kitchen so when I go in there or when I’m washing up, I see her.”
In his home in Southwall Road, he has pictures of his daughter, known as Bernie, as a young gymnast and as a beautiful adult.
Floral tributes at the spot where Bernadette Lee died in the snow
Miss Aldred paid tribute to a charitable side to Bernadette that not everyone knew about.
“On the Christmas before she died she helped the homeless at a shelter in Canterbury.
“I phoned her and she said she was trying to make a crumble for pudding.
“She is always in our thoughts and always in our hearts. When she went she took a chunk of our hearts. She is sorely missed by so many people" - pal Kayleigh Aldred
“Bernie said to me: ‘A lot of people aren’t fortunate like me.’”
Mrs Aldred said the loss has made Bernadette’s many friends think differently about safety when they go out.
“We always make sure we have a coat, enough money for a taxi, there is someone to phone and you don’t ever leave each other on their own.”
On Monday, the family and friends will have a low-key toast to Bernadette at her grave and light a lantern which will burn through the night and into her anniversary day.