• Sun. May 19th, 2024

Half marathon effort in memory of murdered teenage girl Jayden Parkinson


Oct 14, 2022

An animal rescue charity worker is running the Oxford Half Marathon in memory of a tragically murdered teen girl after her own daughter was nearly killed by a violent partner.

Joanna Hopkins, who manages social media for an animal rescue charity, will be taking on the Oxford Half Marathon this weekend in memory of Jayden Parkinson, a teenage girl from Didcot who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2013, after she told him about her pregnancy.

Jayden was 17 when Ben Blakeley, then 22, strangled her in open countryside south of Didcot, before burying her body in the grave of his uncle Alan Kennedy in a cemetery near All Saint’s Church in Didcot.

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The violent thug returned a few days later to stuff her body into a suitcase he borrowed from his grandmother.

Jayden’s murder became the subject of a documentary – When Missing Turns to Murder – which Mrs Hopkins cited as the reason she reached out to Jayden’s mum, Samantha Shrewsbury.

Mrs Hopkins said: “I reached out to Sam after seeing the documentary.

“I had just gone through a similar thing with my own daughter, who was in a relationship with a violent man.

“One night he almost killed her by strangling her and throwing her down the stairs.

“How she survived was a miracle. He left her for dead. This happened not long before the documentary about Jayden came out.

“I reached out Samantha to say thank you for airing it, and we got talking.

“I asked how I could help, I told her I didn’t have any money, but I do a lot of awareness raising through running, so maybe I could do that for her.”

Mrs Hopkins will also be running in the Brighton marathon next year in memory of Jayden.

Jayden’s mum, Ms Shrewsbury, said: “I feel honoured that someone would go our of their way to do something like this in Jayden’s name.

“Joanna is running the Oxford half marathon this year, and then she’s doing the Brighton marathon next year in Jayden’s name too.

“It’s 26 miles and Jayden would have been 26 this September just gone.

“I intend to be at the finish line of the Oxford half marathon, wearing something purple.

“If anybody would like to donate, we are raising money for a charity called Safe.”

Purple was Jayden’s favourite colour, and Mrs Hopkins said she will be wearing a purple top, with Jayden’s name across it for the Oxford half marathon.

Safe provides support to children and families around the Thames Valley who have been affected by crime or abuse through one-to-one and group sessions.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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