A Linslade mum who lost her son in a tragic road collision last year is determined to honour his memory through the sport he loved.
Wendy Barley’s world fell apart when 19-year-old son Jamie Parker died in the collision on Southcourt Avenue on May 20, 2017.
Now, Wendy is seeking to keep his memory alive through organising events in his beloved sport of football.
“Jamie was my only child. He was a very sociable, very caring young man,” Wendy said.
“He was football mad! I remember he once said to me, ‘football is my life, mum!’
“It was always about football and being able to do these things for him is the best way I can find to get through this.”
Last week, Wendy placed a memorial bench for Jamie in the playing field off Derwent Road where he spent much of his childhood honing his skills. The bench is marked with his motto ‘C’est La Vie’ and players from his favourite teams, Charlton Athletic and Luton Town football clubs.
Wendy said: “A load of his friends had ’C’est La Vie’ tattooed on their arms and I couldn’t believe it. I still get visits from them, he really touched a lot of people’s lives.
“I also wanted to meet Jamie’s hero, who was Johnnie Jackson of Charlton Athletic. I went to a match and met him afterwards to shake his hand and I just thanked him for being my son’s hero.”
Former Cedar’s Upper School pupil Jamie had graduated from college and was working shifts at Tesco while pursuing a career in the Border Agency.
In the year after his death, Wendy and her family have had to confront each new milestone. Last month, they passed what would have been Jamie’s 20th birthday.
“It was hard, harder than Christmas because his birthday was his special day,” said Wendy.
“I was hoping that the bench would be there because it’s somewhere I could have gone to reflect and lay flowers but unfortunately it wasn’t ready at the time.
“I’ve got the first Mother’s Day coming up next month and I don’t know how that’s going to be... My husband and I finally got married and we kept the day that our wedding had been booked because I knew Jamie would have wanted that.
“He was going to be an usher and so we asked his best friend Oliver Murtagh to take his place, which he did.
“I tried to involve Jamie in as many ways as I could, I had a picture of him in my bouquet and a picture of him from when he was little on our table. It was both a happy day and it was sad because he wasn’t there.”
From the age of eight to 18, Jamie played for Southcott Owls and Wendy has organised a reunion match of his former team mates to raise money for charity. She hopes as many players as possible will be in touch.
Jamie Parker’s Memorial Match 2018 takes place from 2pm to 6pm on Saturday, April 7, at Cedars 3g Pitch, Mentmore Road in Linslade, with all proceeds going to the Road Victims Trust Foundation.
For more details, visit www.facebook.com/events/2044786059122487.