Smiles for Jess

HUGE TURNOUT FOR FU­NERAL OF BRAVE YOUNG GIRL WHO ASKED FOR A FUN FAREWELL

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By VICKY MUNRO vicky.munro@reach­plc.com @vick­y_aFm

A HUGE turn-out of peo­ple came to pay their re­spects at the fu­neral of brave school­girl Jess Shep­herd who died af­ter a long bat­tle with a rare can­cer.

The 10-year-old, from Ruis­lip Gar­dens, passed away on Septem­ber 7 af­ter bat­tling neu­rob­las­toma, which mainly af­fects ba­bies and young chil­dren, for seven years .

When Jess, who had a “zest for life”, and her famly were told the heart­break­ing news that her con­di­tion was ter­mi­nal, the young girl de­cided she wanted to plan her own “FU­Neral”, in­clud­ing pick­ing her favourite song ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry to be played at the cer­e­mony.

The fu­neral was held on a beau­ti­ful au­tumn af­ter­noon at Break­s­pear Cre­ma­to­rium, in Ruis­lip, on Thurs­day Septem­ber 27.

An over­flow area in the north chapel was made avail­able for mem­bers of the pub­lic who wish to at­tend and pay their re­spects with­out a per­sonal in­vi­ta­tion.

‘She was very brave’

Jess’ grand­mother, Louise Walker, paid trib­ute to the young girl who was “al­ways smil­ing”.

“She had lit­tle say­ings like ‘don’t be sad, it’s a waste of a day’ and ‘if you worry, you can’t en­joy life’ and she re­ally did live ex­actly how she said things. She tried not to worry, she was a very brave girl,” Louise said.

“Jess in­spired other peo­ple, they would say that if she could man­age then so could they.”

Get West Lon­don was in­vited to at­tend the fu­neral by Jess’ fam­ily and we were able to share up­dates from the day for those who could not be there in per­son.

Pink trib­utes

Amaz­ing and colour­ful trib­utes were given in me­mory of Jess at her fu­neral. Her favourite colour, pink, was the ma­jor colour picked for the lovely flow­ers placed in her hon­our.

Jess’ grand­mother Louise Walker has thanked all the peo­ple who have dec­o­rated Hares­field and Ruis­lip “so beau­ti­fully” in pink.

She said: “You made us cry in the car all the way here.”

She also thanked Jess’ school in Hare­field. “She loved school so much, and they sup­ported her so so well. I do not think a day ever went by when she did not want to be at school. There were times when I had to say you are not go­ing and she would not speak to me for hours.”

“Big­gest thanks is to Jess’s med­i­cal teams who have worked tire­lessly over the last four years.

“Her con­sul­tant went above and be­yond and tried ev­ery sin­gle thing to get her into re­mis­sion, but un­for­tu­nately it wasn’t to be.”

She had lit­tle say­ings like ‘don’t be sad – it’s a waste of a day’ and ‘if you worry, you can’t en­joy life’

‘You’re gonna hear me roar’

Roar’ by Katy Perry was played at the ser­vice.

Cel­e­brant Karen Hop­kins said the song had “lyrics which could have been writ­ten for Jess” hada spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance, partly as Jess’ favourite song, but even more so af­ter Katy Perry ded­i­cated a per­for­mance of the song to the brave young­ster back in June.

Many celebri­ties sent Jess spe­cial mes­sages of sup­port af­ter be­ing con- tacted by her fam­ily and friends via so­cial me­dia.

Co­me­dian David Wal­liams, BBC ra­dio DJ Sara Cox and Colleen Rooney all replied to re­quests to tweet Jess with heart­felt mes­sages of ad­mi­ra­tion and sup­port.

The song ‘Cir­cle of Life’, fa­mous from the Lion King sound­track, has been played to start the ser­vice.

Jess’s mum Danielle said a short prayer and she told those gath­ered: “I want to thank all of you from the bot­tom of my heart for all the sup­port you have shown Jess over the years. De­spite the hand she was dealt, she al­ways in­sisted on liv­ing life to the fullest”.

Flo­ral trib­utes

Flow­ers spell­ing out ‘Jes­sica’ are dis­played in the win­dow of the hearse, with more flow­ers spell­ing out ‘roar’.

Pink

The com­mu­nity in Hare­field got to­gether to dec­o­rate as much of the area as pos­si­ble in pink in me­mory of Jess.

Suzy Flood, who took the pho­tos, wrote on so­cial me­dia: “Moved be­yond words to­day.

”When a lit­tle girl’s smile and laugh­ter brought a vil­lage, and peo­ple from across the world, to­gether. Pink rib­bons have been put up in Hare­field in hon­our and me­mory of the very beau­ti­ful Jess who trag­i­cally lost her bat­tle with neu­rob­las­toma, age 10. RIP beau­ti­ful.”

Louise Walker, Jess’s grand­mother, said: “Since her death, we have had amaz­ing sup­port, es­pe­cially in Hare­field and Ruis­lip. I have not seen it my­self but I’m told Hare­field has gone com­pletely pink for her be­cause it was her favourite colour and Ruis­lip is do­ing the same.

“Jess or­gan­ised her own fu­neral when she re­alised that there was not any­more hope.

“We had lots of dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions and she told us ex­actly what she wanted, which made it less hard for us

“She said she did not want any­one to be sad and she wanted them to have fun, although I told her I couldn’t prom­ise that no one would cry.

“She chose her own mu­sic, in­clud­ing her favourite song ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry, which she al­ways said was writ­ten about her, be­cause she wanted a lot of danc­ing.”

IM­AGES: JAKE DAR­LING

IM­AGE OF JESS: RACHEL WELLS PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Brave Jess Shep­herd, 10, said she didn’t want peo­ple to be sad at her fu­neral and de­cided there should be colour and mu­sic there

There were tears at the ser­vice but also mo­ments of the joy in­spired by Jess

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