A collection of words and photographs that I put together for Jess' celebration service.
For me, it was her spirit of independence and the freedom found in her faith that really allowed her to flourish into the beautiful woman that she was.
A spirit within her, a confidence, that allowed her to explore things in her own way, carve her own path and make positive decisions for herself and her family. Although she observed and learnt from how others went about things, she very much established her own way of doing things, a quiet authority that she stood by when questioned. Nothing ever seemed insurmountable, there wasn’t ever any question of whether something could be achieved or not, just how and when. She needed encouragement and guidance at times, as we all do, but not many teenagers would even think about putting on a concert for a few hundred people to raise money for charity. In recent years, I looked on in admiration as she took up running (thanks Argalls!) and tackled half marathons at the Eden Project.
And in the face of such significant loss after Dad passed away, deciding to change career paths to become a counsellor and support others when they needed it most.
As kids, it was in the garden with dad that we spent so much of our time, our own haven, a playground where our imaginations could flourish. In later years it was music that brought us together so often, with much support from mum and dad that allowed us to share many years rehearsing and performing in orchestras that I know for both of us were such valuable and formative parts of our upbringing. We shared so many amazing weeks together on holidays in the Lake District, a place I know she loved dearly and somewhere she didn’t quite make it back to for one last time.
As a photographer, I'll miss her overwhelming willingness to pose and pull a face for the camera. We were never afraid to take the mick out of each other, to hold things lightly and to keep each other grounded, to gather together in the tougher times but also to celebrate our victories. I know that all of you who met her won't have failed to notice the positivity that she radiated and the joy with which she treasured each moment, we have so much to be grateful for.
It was so beautiful to observe her and Rob making decisions about Tali’s upbringing. Jess wanted to be so close to comfort Tali but also instill that spirit of freedom within her, something every child should have, something that Jess and Rob have seemed so able to provide. Tali is already showing a bravery in that freedom, a willingness to explore, encouraging others to follow her, usually into the shallows of the sea, but I doubt it’ll be long before she is conquering the waves for herself.
I still can't quite believe that Jess is not with us any more, her short and painful struggle with cancer seems so brutally unfair. As her big brother, I couldn't be any prouder of who she was and how she impacted the world around her. Her empathy, focus, enthusiasm and joy, alongside the way she and Rob have raised the beautiful little Tali are all things I will hold on to dearly.
Thank you for your support in the days gone by and in the days ahead. The greatest thing you can do for us is to remember Jess’ positivity, approaching life with gratitude and sharing what you have with those around you.
Donations in memory of Jess
As a family, we have chosen to support Penhaligon’s Friends, a Cornwall based charity supporting bereaved children, young people, parents and carers throughout the county. They offer children and young people the chance to meet others and share their experiences, as well as practical resources for children and parents. This is a charity that Jess encountered through her work as a counsellor and also a service that will support Tali, Rob and the family in the future.
You can find out more and donate online at: www.penhaligonsfriends.org.uk/donate/