THE family and friends of a 24-year-old woman who died suddenly of a undiagnosed heart condition are set to cycle from St Helens to Edinburgh to mark the first anniversary of her death.

Jess Welsby from St Helens had created a life for herself in Edinburgh working as a Chartered Accountant at Chiene and Tait. However, in August last year, she went on a work trip to Melbourne, Australia and suddenly and unexpectedly died from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) at the age of 24yrs.

SADS are genetic heart conditions that can cause sudden death in young, apparently healthy, people. These conditions can be treated and deaths can be prevented.

To mark the first anniversary of her death, a team of six, made up of family and friends, are cycling between her family home in St Helens to her Edinburgh home to raise awareness in tribute to her.

The memorial bike ride challenge will also be accompanied by a support ‘fun’ bus, driven by Jess’ uncle and will display the ‘Just for Jess’ poster.

Jess’ dad, Ste said: “Jessica was a special girl, you certainly knew when she entered a room, she liked to have and give an opinion but boy was she full of life, love and laughter.

“Seeing her dad on a bike would crack her up. I can just hear her saying, ‘Are you having a laugh Dad.’

“The cycle ride will be quite a challenge, but I’ll be spurred on by the team I have cycling with me and with Jess in mind.”

The cycling team added: “The reason we were taking on the challenge was because Jess was such a special, young, crazy and beautiful lady.

“Our families have always been very close with our children growing up together. To lose her was devastating for all of us, so full of fun and life, you never imagine that she would be taken from us for no apparent reason.

“When her dad came up with the idea it seemed a fitting tribute, although we did think he was joking, little did we know. Jess would have cried laughing at the thought of us on a bike, the most exercise we ever did was walking to the pub and lifting pints.

“We have gone from needing stabilisers and plasters to owning padded shorts and helmets. Training 5 times a week with new equipment we now consider ourselves in the same league as Bradley Wiggins.

“We are doing this bike ride to remember Jess and to give all the family something to focus on and try and raise some money and awareness for the charity SADS UK a good cause which is now close to our hearts.”

Jess’ aunt Jane added: “When Jessica died completely unexpected and suddenly at the age of 24, it totally shook our family to the core, it was devastating and still is.

“As we approach the anniversary of her passing her dad, uncles and friends are cycling from her home in St Helens to Edinburgh raising funds to support SADS UK. We are doing our upmost to celebrate her life rather than mourn her death.

“I will be walking a marathon around Ruislip ‘Just for Jess’ with my daughters on Saturday, August 22 before meeting up with the cycling team when they arrive at their destination in Edinburgh on Sunday, August 30.

Anne Jolly MBE, CEO of SADS UK said: “The charity SADS UK is grateful to family friends and colleagues for supporting the charity in memory of Jessica. It will help raise awareness of SADS and keep it at the forefront of people’s minds during the Covid-19 pandemic which are particularly challenging times.

“The charity works with Government departments and SADS UK is working to improve understanding of conditions and symptoms that may indicate a person is at risk.

“SADS UK funds Research into SADS at major heart hospitals. Leaflets which promote the ‘The Warning Signs’ to look out for are distributed to training schools, medical establishments, schools and other youth organizations.

“The charity especially highlights the fact that young people can suffer from cardiac conditions.

“The charity wants to ensure that more resources are put into this area of healthcare to help find ways to prevent these tragic young deaths

If you would like to know more about the work of SADS UK see www.sadsuk.org or email info@sadsuk.org for further information

n To donate go to justgiving.com/fundraising/jesswelsby31