Glastonbury boss and bands to host ‘Jesstival’ festival in memory of music loving cancer teen

The parents of a festival loving teenager, Jess Fairclough, 18, who sadly lost her life to cancer in 2015, are fulfilling their dream of bringing together leading lights from the UK rock and folk scene for a fundraising festival in memory of their daughter.

Glastonbury boss and bands to host ‘Jesstival’ festival in memory of music loving cancer teen

Glastonbury’s legendary John Peel stage manager, Jim Fox, is among those who have come on board to help organise the weekend bash entitled ‘Jesstival’, with Jess’ parents, friends, family, and staff from CLIC Sargent and Teenage Cancer Trust, who supported Jess through her battle with cancer.

Leading British folk singer Jay McAllister, front man of band ‘Beans on Toast’, an opening act at Glastonbury Festival every year, will headline the two-day ‘Jesstival’ music festival at Derbyshire’s Gresley Old Hall.

And Jesstival will be held on what would ordinarily be the weekend of the Glastonbury music festival, 30 June – 1 July, a peak weekend in the calendar for music lovers.

Liverpool born Jess Fairclough, who was treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, was just 18-years-old when she sadly passed away in November 2015 due to a rare cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of soft tissue sarcoma that grows in active muscles of the body. 

Music kept Jess going during the toughest of times throughout her treatment. Jess’ mum, Tracy Fairclough, aged 46, who lives in Liverpool said:

“Music was a massive part of our beautiful daughter Jess’ life, right up until the moment she died in November 2015. She played piano, guitar and was never without her ukulele. "

“In fact, before she got sick, she was setting up a band and she even recorded a song in hospital with the Alder Hey Blues ward band.  

“It was her CLIC Sargent social worker, Rachel, who first had the idea for ‘Jesstival’, when we were talking about what we would like to do to boost Jess – and ‘Jesstival’ was born right there!

“We first came into the care of CLIC Sargent and the Teenage Cancer Trust teams at Alder Hey Children’s hospital. 

"Our CLIC Sargent social worker, Rachel, was there for us right from the start - and after she died. She gave us amazing advice, got us funding to keep going financially and helped us with work situations. Our brave girl was incredibly strong, positive and brave throughout this - no tears or even anger.”

Rob, a youth support co-ordinator for Teenage Cancer Trust, supported Jess and her family throughout Jess’ treatment. 

Mum, Tracy, continued: “Rob knew exactly when to pick his times to see Jess and always made her feel important. Rob quickly got to learn what made Jess tick and they had a lot of shared interests that he encouraged her to talk about.

“I have never met someone who made my daughter laugh so much which is amazing given she was on an extremely tough chemo regime”.

“Jess was booked to go to Glastonbury during the final stages of her illness, and had really been looking forward to watching her two favorite artists, Death Cab for Cutie and Beans on Toast, but sadly she was too ill to make it on the day.

“She was also looking forward to taking part in CLIC Sargent’s Music Programme, and thanks to Phil who runs it, he put us in touch with Jim Fox, manager of the John Peel stage.  Thanks to this connection, just before Death Cab for Cutie appeared on the BBC,  Jess’ face appeared  on two massive screens at the side of the stage with the words ‘we wish you were here’.  We watched it on TV from the hospital ward in the Alder Hey and it was a fantastic surprise for her.  

“I want to say a huge thank you to CLIC Sargent and Teenage Cancer Trust for the work they do, and the support they gave us, but most importantly for placing Rachel and Rob in our lives at the point that we needed them. 

“So to honor her memory and raise vital money for CLIC Sargent and Teenage Cancer Trust, we are throwing a huge musical celebration of Jess’ life, so that other teenagers diagnosed with cancer can have the same help and support Jess did.”  

Tributes to Jess have been flooding in from bands, organisers and volunteers taking part in Jesstival. 

Glastonbury’s John Peel stage manager, Jim fox, who spent more than 30 years playing festivals himself, and currently juggles his time between running a support centre for people living with cancer, as well as running the legendary Glastonbury stage, said: “When I heard about Jesstival, I really wanted to get involved and support such a wonderful event in memory of Jess. My guitar has come out of its case, the songs have been given a dusting off, and I will be back on the stage at Jesstival with an acoustic set.”

Singer Jay McAllister, a.k.a ‘Beans on Toast’ said:

"Sounds like Jess was a wonderful person and a huge inspiration for all those around her. It's an honour to be asked to play such an important event and to be raising money for both Teenage Cancer Trust and ClIC Sargent" 

Stefanie Underhill, Fundraising and Engagement Manager for North Wales and Merseyside at CLIC Sargent, said: “We are thrilled that Jess’ family’s dream has come true. Jesstival is such a wonderful tribute to an incredible girl and we can’t thank Jess’ family enough for putting on a weekend of music to keep their daughter’s memory alive whilst raising vital funds and awareness of the work of CLIC Sargent and Teenage Cancer Trust. 

‘Stoko’, Michael Stokes, Evil Blizzard’s Bassist, said:

“We first heard about Jess after her family saw us at a festival. Jess' dad, Rod, started coming along to a few gigs and we got to know him.

“When he broke the news about Jess being ill, it really resonated with all the band - most of us have children and so we could only begin to imagine what Rod and Tracy were going through as parents, let alone what Jess had to face.

“And she faced it all. Head on. With a smile and strength; and this strength passed on to her parents, and their friends, and the Faircloughs became an inspiration to everyone.

“As soon as Rod and Tracy began talking about 'Jesstival' we were in. What an incredible way to celebrate her; and celebrate we will. Cheers Jess; this one's for you.”

Sam, lead singer of the band, Chasing Shadows, said: 

"We are very honored to be playing Jesstival  this year, as a band we love giving back to charities like this, but Jesstival is extremely close to our hearts and we can't wait to get on stage and put a fantastic show on for everyone."

Jess’ parents, Tracy and Rod, wish to keep the memory of their daughter alive by hosting the first ever ‘Jesstival’ festival – and hope to raise vital funds for children and young people’s cancer support charities CLIC Sargent and Teenage Cancer Trust.

To buy tickets or donate:

To donate to Jess’ family’s fundraising page please visit:

To buy tickets go to 

To view the full line-up of artists and bands playing at ‘Jesstival’ visit

Jesstival organisers are still looking for volunteers to help on the day – visit their website for details.

Twitter @jesstivalf #jesstival