Final picture of ex-beauty queen who died at Michael Owen's stables

Heartbreaking final picture of ex-beauty queen who suddenly collapsed and died at Michael Owen’s stables shows 25-year-old enjoying a glass of wine just 72 hours earlier – as friends pay tribute

  • Jessica Whalley collapsed and died at the  Manor House Stables on Tuesday
  • The former beauty queen was out enjoying wine with friends just 72 hours prior 
  • Stables are owned by ex-footballer Owen, who was in tears over Jessica’s death

Friends of the young woman who tragically died at the stables owned by ex-England football star Michael Owen this week have shared a touching final photo of her as they mourn her sudden death aged just 25.

Owen and his staff at Manor House Stables were left in tears when horsewoman and former beauty queen Jessica Whalley collapsed on Tuesday and could not be revived by paramedics, witnesses claimed.

Known as Jess to her colleagues, she was a transport manager at the stables near Malpas, Cheshire, which are co-owned by the former striker’s daughter, Love Island star Gemma Owen, 19.

She fell ill at around 7.30am on Tuesday, but despite the best efforts of paramedics she was pronounced dead at the scene, Cheshire Police said.

One friend shared a photo of Ms Whalley holding a glass of wine taken just three days before her collapse, describing her death as ‘heartbreaking’. 

A friend posted this photo of Jessica Whalley, 25, after her death and said it had been taken just 72 hours previously

Ms Whalley tragically died at work at Michael Owen’s Manor House Stables

They wrote: ‘It’s heartbreaking to hear Jess lost her life today at the tender age of 25.

‘She was riding out doing what she loved. We had so many great times working in Dubai.

‘May she rest in peace. Here’s her just 72 hours ago.’

A witness, Jessica Mair, posted on Facebook: ‘So sad seeing him [Michael Owen] and all his staff in tears today after such a shock to them – such a young age, no health problems… Life really is too short for we never really know how long we have. Thoughts go out to her family and friends.’

Emergency services attended the stables at around 7.30am yesterday, but Ms Whalley was pronounced dead at the scene. Police were informed at around 8.50am.

The force said the death is not being treated as suspicious and her next of kin have been informed. A file will be prepared for the coroner.

Manor House Stables posted a message, reading: ‘It is with deep sadness that we have to announce that a much-valued member of our team died at work this morning.

‘The family have been informed and both the family and the team at Manor House request privacy at this time.’

Ex-England star Owen and staff at Manor House Stables were in tears following Jessica’s death

Jessica collapsed and could not be revived by paramedics at the stable complex in Cheshire

Jessica is listed as one of the transport managers at Manor House Stables and also rode horses

Ms Whalley, named locally, described herself as ‘travelling head person’ at Manor House Stables, and also as working for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai, UAE, who owns a large international network of thoroughbred stables.

In 2018, she posted a photo of the Gulf state, writing: ‘I cannot wait for this to be home for the next 6 months.’ 

In official documents published by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner this month, she is listed as one of the transport managers at Manor House Stables.

She’s also a former beauty queen and in 2019 represented the UK in Miss Tourism Universe pageant, screened on MTV and held in Beirut, making it into the final ten contestants.

Manor House Stables expressed their condolences to Jessica’s family in a statement 

The horse rider had represented the UK in Miss Tourism Universe pageant in 2019 and reached the final ten

Yesterday, Ms Whalley’s friends Maxine Bowley and Jo Neesam both changed their Facebook profiles to photos with her, and their timelines were flooded with messages of condolences.

North West Ambulance Service confirmed it had been called to attend Owen’s stables just before 7.30am with Cheshire Police arriving later. 

A spokesperson said in a statement: ‘We received at call at 7.26 this morning [Tuesday]. We did attend but I am unable to confirm any more details.’

The stables is a purpose-built training facility created by Owen and his family.

It has been the base for trainer Hugo Palmer since last spring.

Owen, 43, a former England footballer who played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, set up the stables in 2006.

Last summer, his daughter Gemma, an international dressage champion, showcased her impressive horse riding skills at the stables.

Her own horse, called Sirius Black and described as ‘one in a million’, died suddenly in February this year aged 18.

The animal lover worked for a large international network of thoroughbred stables across the world 

Since the news of her death, Jessica’s friends and family have paid tribute to her on social media

There are 105 horses in training at Manor House Stables ahead of the new flat turf season which is due to begin on Saturday.

Trainers Fergal O’Brien and Graeme McPherson, said: ‘Thoughts with all involved.’

One said: ‘Gosh this is absolutely awful news. I am so sorry. Deepest condolences to you all and the family who have lost a loved one.’

While another posted: ‘So sorry to the family and everyone at MHS! A lovely, pleasant person to have worked with! RIP.’

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