TRIBUTES have been paid to beloved mother-of-seven, grandmother-of-ten and devoted Blackburn Rovers fan Jackie Rigby who has died at the age of just 52.
Mrs Rigby, from Darwen, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 and was told her condition was terminal in 2018, just six months before she had hoped to get the all-clear.
However, Mrs Rigby spent her last months supported by her family, reliving happy memories thanks to a fundraiser set up to help them by friend Natalie Stirling, while her passing has been marked by a tribute from the football club she loved and at whose college sons Jack and Brandon studied.
A Blackburn Rovers Trust spokesperson said: “Jackie’s big personality and fantastic energy and spirit for life as well as supporting her two sons through their studies, always brought a smile to our faces and is one we will never forget.”
They added: “Blackburn Rovers Sports College staff delivered flowers to her son, Jack’s home, as everyone at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust extends their deepest sympathies to Jackie’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
This is the second tragedy to hit the family in recent years with Jackie’s husband Marcus having died of liver failure in February 2018.
Working in chip shops and as a taxi driver at various points, Mrs Rigby’s love of Blackburn Rovers was a theme that ran throughout her entire life.
A regular season ticket holder, Mrs Rigby also worked with the club’s official charity, accepting an award on behalf of community trust matchday photographer Kirk Lowe last year and proudly watching as soon Jack accepted an education award from Blackburn Rovers Sports College.
In 2017 she was thrilled to meet one of her sporting heroes, former Rovers and Wales star Robbie Savage, during a visit to East Lancashire Hospice.
Mrs Rigby had life-size cut outs of the radio start in her bedroom and was amazed to be able to pose for photos with the real-life version.
Determined to make her last months count, Mrs Rigby agreed to take part in the hospice’s Leave a Legacy of Love campaign, aimed at encouraging people to leave a donation to the hospice in their wills.
Speaking when she first joined the campaign, Mrs Rigby said: “I felt isolated before I knew about the hospice and still have those feelings, but going there gives me something to look forward to because I’ll be around people who understand how I feel.”
She added: “I’ve been able to explore my feelings through art therapy and have created pictures and a remembrance tree that I built for everyone to put leaves on that will have the names of people we miss on them.”
Meanwhile a close friend of Mrs Rigby has marked her passing by placing a bouquet of flowers on her seat at Ewood Park.
The club have declared that she will remain ‘forever blue and white’.
To find out more about East Lancashire Hospice’s Leave a Legacy of Love campaign, go to: https://eastlancshospice.org.uk/leave-a-legacy-of-love.