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Jessica’s bike ride for mum and dad

Jess as a young girl with her late parents Philip and Allison and brothers Thomas and Jonathan.

Jess as a young girl with her late parents Philip and Allison and brothers Thomas and Jonathan.

Lancaster University student Jessica Meldrum was just 13 when she lost her mum to cancer.

The shock had hardly sunk in when she discovered her dad also had terminal cancer.

He died six months later.

Now, 22-year-old Jess plans to cycle 400km across India to raise money to help other bereaved children get the support they need.

Jess is raising money for Winston’s Wish, the UK’s leading child bereavement charity that offers practical support and guidance to children, teenagers and their families through the grieving process.

She said: “27th June 2005 was the day my mam died of secondary breast cancer.

“It was also the day that I first saw my dad in intensive care with 10 per cent chance of survival, before he then died of stomach cancer six months later. It was the day my world changed forever.”

Jess’s mum Allison was only 39 when she died.

Tomorrow, Friday, marks the ninth anniversary of her death.

Her dad Philip was 44 when he passed away six months later.

Jess said: “Dad had been was fit and healthy and had been nursing my mam throughout the year but suddenly he was really ill.

“He went into hospital and was put into intensive care and they found out his stomach had burst. It was really scary.

“A few months later we found out he had stomach cancer and that it was terminal, and he died a few months after that.

“It was crazy, my mum had just died so it was just another hit for me.

“We had a few weeks where we started to rebuild our lives and then we found out dad was dying.”

Jess, who has an older brother, Jonathan, and younger brother, Thomas, received counselling when she was 16, and knows how important it is for youngsters to have support at such a difficult time.

She said: “From day one, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was listened to and helped to open up, week after week, and month after month.

“Talking eased the pain of my bereavement, the fear of my future as an orphan, and it helped the torturing confusion as a child of how on earth could my parents be ‘just gone’.

“Over time, I started to feel happier. Now, aged 22, I have achieved my GCSEs, A-levels, and completed a degree.

“I have still managed to reach the same point in my life that I would have hoped to reach even if my parents had been alive.

“Without a doubt, I would not have been able to build myself a promising future without the help of a bereavement charity, which taught me the benefits of talking and gave me some hope at a crucial time in my life, as I began to determine my future.

“It helped me to reach where I am today and enabled me to feel positive for what’s ahead of me, and move forward.”

Jess, who grew up in Sunderland, will spend three weeks in India in September, including six days cycling 400km through the Rajasthan region, as part of a charity event arranged through Lancaster University Students’ Union.

Having just finished her four year management and entrepreneurship course, Jess then hopes to spend up to two years travelling and working in Australia.

She said: “This is a part of me making the most of life because it’s far too short.

“My parents saved up all their lives and they never for the chance to travel so I want to make sure I get to do it.

“My mam was always so happy and positive; they were the best parents I could have had.

“I had such a good start in life and I think that really helped me, because they were always so supportive.”

“It will be amazing to be able to help children going through any kind of bereavement because I know just what it’s like and how it can affect you.

“It’s been very hard but I have been able to move on and be positive because of the help I received.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic what Winston’s Wish do – being able to talk to another child who has been through what you have.”

To sponsor Jess, go to www.justgiving.com/jessicameldrum.

 

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