Festival celebrating the life and 21st birthday of a south Warwickshire rugby player is taking place this weekend
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A festival featuring rugby, music and stalls is being held in honour of a south Warwickshire woman's life this weekend.
JessFest 21 will be taking place at the Old Leamingtonians RFC in Leamington to celebrate what would have been Jessica Pardo’s 21st birthday.
Jess died in 2021 after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour the previous year.
She had been taken to hospital in May 2020 after she woke up with a headache. After a CT scan and a biopsy, Jess and her family were told she had a stage 4 brain tumour.
Sarah, Jess’s mum, said: “On June 1, the devastation to our perfect family turned into any parent’s worst nightmare.
“As the neurosurgeon spoke I felt like I was floating away this wasn’t happening to us.
“Over the next few days we were told this was terminal for Jessica. We needed to be strong and ensure Jessica was living her best life for the time she had left.
“Jessica was loud, funny and absolutely crazy at times. Jessica loved life, she was loyal and fierce. Jessica had the best few months celebrating life with family and friends.
“Then early in 2021, our world fell apart all the celebrations stopped, the deafening silence began and the empty feeling continues which only childhood bereavement brings.
“Before Jessica died I promised her I would say her name every day, and keep her memory alive. Now all we have left our memories and Jessica’s name."
Jess and her family lived in various places in the Warwick district and Jess was well-known in the rugby community, as she played at Old Leamingtonians RFC, Leamington RFC, Barkers Butts RFC and Kenilworth RFC.
She also played for Warwickshire county and at RFU centre of excellence at Worcester Warriors.
To honour her memory and celebrate what would have been her birthday, her family have organised a three day event, which will also be raising money for charity.
JessFest 21 is started at 2pm today (Friday September 1) and will run through until Sunday (September 3) finishing at 10am.
The event will feature rugby, street food, live music, DJ’s and a drag auction.
Sarah added: “During JessFest 21 we are holding a raffle and auction, all monies will go to two local charities.
“Shine a light support services offered support to Jessica and us bringing gifts and supporting us at home.
“The second charity is Evelyn’s Gift who we have met since Jessica was stolen from us, they run a parent bereavement group which we attend.
"In the beginning the group taught us how to keep breathing each day and now we are all part of an unwanted group of faithfully friends.
“JessFest 21 is open to everyone, come and share your memories of Jess or just come along to join the fun and raise some money for two amazing local charities.”
Tickets on Eventbrite have now sold out.