Sunderland Supporters Heaven Branch: Remembering loved ones

How it came about
An idea that came about in a discussion between fans Joanne Youngson and Billy Wright sharing fond memories of Branch Liaison Council members and supporters that have passed away and the void they leave behind. Influenced by training delivered by Washington MIND ‘A narrative approach to death and dying’ it was agreed that talking about our loved ones, sharing stories is healthy and should be encouraged. Using the community of fellow fans and the mutual love for Sunderland, the branch is a safe place to do this.

The idea
A branch that family members can join their loved ones up to when they have passed away. Members get a certificate which family members can keep stating they are now an eternal member of the Sunderland BLC Heaven Branch. It’s about offering comfort to people left behind that their loved ones are still remembered, and they remain part of their beloved club. The Facebook page is a dedicated place where fans can share stories about their loved ones as well as celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and special moments.

The Name
The Sunderland Supporters Heaven Branch understand different faiths may not recognise Heaven. They discussed this with various fans, local faith leaders and sought the advice of club chaplain Marc Lyden Smith. The response was a positive one agreeing that using the word Heaven would be accepted in the way it’s meant, offering comfort and inclusive to all.

More than just a gimmick
The Sunderland Supporters Heaven Branch link in with Washington MIND who currently offer mental health support as part of the Bran Liaison Council Fans Supporting Fans Matchday Mental Health Hub. They think this is a wonderful idea which may help people through bereavement of losing a loved one. They are happy to offer their support and guidance going forward with this and suggested the aforementioned training. When sending out certificates of memberships, the option to include information and links to bereavement support as well as more specific support if their loss is suicide related will be available.

There is a dedicated Heaven Branch flag which is used by fans and local funeral directors at the funeral services of Sunderland fans. This was introduced to save families time and money at what often is the most stressful and upsetting times.


Like other branches the Sunderland Supporters Heaven Branch are made up of a committee, patron, and club representative all of whom are no longer with us. More information can be found on these people on our committee page on website. Fans and branches are more than welcome to nominate their loved ones for a role within the branch.


Facebook: The Sunderland Supporters Heaven Branch
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