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Fern Balch visits every club her father played for or managed in MNDA fundraising bid

THE daughter of a well-known Dorset and Hampshire football figure who died in 2011 after suffering from motor neurone disease has cycled to every club her father played for or managed.

Fern, a radio presenter with talkSPORT and BBC Radio Solent, cycled more than 105 miles while visiting a host of her father’s clubs.

Tim Balch played in goal for a host of clubs, but his high point came when he helped the 1992 Wimborne Town side win the FA Vase Final at Wembley while becoming the first club from Dorset to play in a Wembley final.

Fern Balch at Brockenhurst (47802766)
Fern Balch at Brockenhurst (47802766)

Wimborne needed replays to see off Hastings United, Newcastle Town and Diss Town respectively in rounds four, five and six.

As well as his time between the sticks, he was a well-known coach for local sides, including Bashley, Brockenhurst, Lymington Town, and New Milton Town.

Speaking about her decision to do the ride, Fern said: “He was the most amazing person, my partner in crime, and my best friend. He was also a massive character in Dorset and Hampshire football. He played as a goalkeeper through the 80s and 90s and as a manager until he had to hang up his boots due to his illness.

“In March 2010, he started to lose strength in his right hand, and he could no longer hold a pen or his equipment to continue working. We thought it could be down to repetitive strain injury, but then he started getting fasciculation in his arm.

“A month or so went by, and our worst fears were confirmed. He was diagnosed with MND, an incurable and cruel condition where your muscles attack themselves and leave your body paralysed.”

Fern Balch with Bashley FC's Mike Cranidge at Bashley (47802763)
Fern Balch with Bashley FC's Mike Cranidge at Bashley (47802763)

The money raised will go to Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), a charity that supports those with the disease and their family members.

Fern added: “I’d do a full day of school and then go home to care for him, feed him, make him drink, move him around so he didn’t get bed sores, and even help him to the toilet.

“I remember going to school on a Monday morning and telling my best friend my dad was going to die tonight, she told me not to be silly, but I knew in my heart of hearts he was slipping away.

“That’s why I decided, on what would have been my dad’s 64th birthday, to cycle the distance across Dorset and Hampshire to all the football clubs he ever played for or managed, and trust me, there are plenty of them!”

To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/timbalch

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