“On Saturday 25th August, Jessica, our daughter, went missing. It was a stormy, wet and miserable day for anyone to be out. Yet we were, and alongside us were friends and family, police officers, the RAF and complete strangers. There were people out with their children, joggers and cyclists, dog walkers and football teams. It seemed the whole of Beverley was being combed from the river Hull to the Westwood, but it was in a little wood near Lincoln Way that our lovely daughter, our darling Jess, was finally found, on Sunday.
There are too many people to thank for all their help and support, but I will try anyway, by attempting the impossible and putting into mere words just what kind of girl they were all looking for.
Jess was no angel, but nor was she a bad kid. She was cheeky and mischievous, loving and kind. She was the kind of girl who got on with anyone, she never judged and just took people as she found them. She filled our lives with fun and laughter, loved us and hugged us, played with us and fought with us, often all at the same time. She was clever and confident, funny and witty, and I can still hear her laughing.
Jess was a lance corporal in Beverley Town Army Cadets, a role she lived and breathed. I remember her nagging me to let her join from as soon as she was old enough, and having to search the internet for a pair of size five combat boots for her. She was thrilled when they arrived and couldn’t wait to learn how to bull them.
She loved going on camp, shooting, crawling about in the muck and running about like a uniformed lunatic. She liked walking in the rain and frightening the life out of us by doing mad things on the trampoline.
She was kind and thoughtful, helpful and willing. She liked to help me on the allotment when the mood took her but was hopeless at washing up and tidying her bedroom. She always burned the toast and wasn’t very good at cooking anything else either, but she was good at maths, could read a map at the age of thirteen, use a compass, sleep under a basher and live from a mess tin, and we wouldn’t have had her any other way.
The Jess who left home on Saturday lunchtime was laughing and hugging me just before she left. We had a tickle fight on the stairs, a fight she always lost and which always left me with a bruise or two. She told me she loved me for the last time there, as I helped her up, both of us laughing.
This was the girl all those kind, caring and selfless people were looking for, our daughter Jess, my ‘special girl’, her big sister’s ‘little sissy’, someone her little brother could look up to and her mother’s ‘baby girl’. Our Jess.
On the behalf of our family I would like to thank everyone who helped look for Jess, all of you who have paid tribute to her, the army of Facebook users who said such wonderful things and posted so many pictures of Jess and the emergency services for their unstinting professionalism. From the officers who searched in all weathers and hours and the PCSOs I met out in a field full of nettles to our family liaison officers and those who comforted us at that most horrible moment at the very last, they gave their all.
I would like to thank the paramedics for looking after my wife and I and our close family and friends who have helped us onto the path out of this nightmare that has so suddenly surrounded our lives. I won’t name you, you know who you are.
I would especially like to thank the Army Cadets, particularly Beverley Town CO, Staff Joiner, and Padre Dawson, whose kind words were a great comfort and a light in a terribly dark place for me personally.
I would finally like to finish by thanking the press, both national and local, for their aid in the search for Jess. I would also ask them to continue to respect our privacy at this dreadful time in our lives by avoiding any speculation regarding Jess’s passing and respecting our earnest request that they avoid Jess’s funeral when it is at last arranged.
Thank you all and everyone.”
Dave Blake, proud father of Jess. Our special baby girl.