Legacy of hope for teenager who ‘judged no-one and loved everyone’

The death of Jodie Chesney sent shockwaves through the country and brought home the grim reality of youth knife crime in Britain.

As symbolic purple ribbons sprang up around the crime scene, the 17-year-old’s family struggled to make sense of the tragedy.

Jodie’s father Peter set up a charity, the Jodie Chesney Foundation, aimed at taking action to steer young people away from knife crime.

In a tribute on its website, Mr Chesney said his daughter was a “beautiful person” who was just “blossoming into a wonderful young woman” when her life was cut short.

He said: “She was a beautiful, well-liked, fun young woman who judged no-one and loved everyone. As a little girl she was very shy, but her confidence grew from strength to strength as she got older.”

She was studying psychology, sociology and photography at Havering Sixth Form College and her friends, family and dog Woody “meant the world” to her.

He said: “She wore her heart on her sleeve and her infectious laugh would light up any room.”

Jodie, a keen classical pianist and photographer, had achieved the Duke of Edinburgh bronze and silver awards and was just a few weeks away from completing her gold.

She was also an active Scout member and “touched the lives of many other young people” through her volunteer work.

Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2019
Bear Grylls has lent his support to an anti-knife crime charity set up in Jodie’s memory (Ian West/PA)

Chief Scout Bear Grylls, who lent his support to the Foundation, said Jodie was “one of our brightest and best”.

He wrote: “She put everything into life and her dedication to her friends, her family, to Scouts and her community was incredible.

“When she represented us at the Royal Albert Hall at the Annual Festival of Remembrance, we could not have hoped for a better ambassador for the movement. Now’s it’s our turn to remember her.”

Hornchurch and Upminster MP Julia Lopez also supported the charity, saying the community had been left in a “state of shock” at the “despicable violence”.

During the trial, prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said: “Jodie was a fine young woman, a girl of achievement and ambition, without apparently an enemy in the world, a victim of a brutal attack of unprovoked violence.”

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams, who investigated her murder, described Jodie as a typical “girl next door”.

He said the teenager’s family were “absolutely devastated” and found hearing details about her death “extremely traumatic”.

He said: “They lived the investigation with us. They want answers to questions I can’t give them. Why did this happen? I cannot give them a satisfactory answer because I don’t know myself.

“The devastation will continue, it’s something, as a parent, you don’t recover from.”

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