Stab victim Jess marks her 18th

Happy Birthday: Jess with her mum Jill Walmsley
Happy Birthday: Jess with her mum Jill Walmsley

A Chorley teenager who was horrifically stabbed by a crazed knifeman is gearing up to mark a milestone her family feared she’d never see – her 18th birthday.

Jessica Knight, who has just undergone more excruciating surgery after being stabbed 23 times on a footpath in Astley Village, hopes the occasion will finally bring closure after the shocking incident in 2008.

The attack left the former Parklands schoolgirl in a critical condition, and she has suffered a series of strokes since – the most recent one being in February.

However, the set-backs will be the last thing on her mind when she celebrates her 18th birthday on the same day as the Royal wedding on Friday.

“I’m just disappointed I didn’t get an invite,” the teenager joked. “I’ll be too busy organising my night out though, so I’m really looking forward to that instead. I have picked five dresses and don’t know which one to wear yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Jessica was only 14 years old when she was stabbed by French national Kristoffer Beddar as she was listening to her iPod on a quiet footpath in January 2008.

He severed her jugular vein, perforated her bowel twice and damaged her lung, leaving her fighting for her life in hospital, with her family at her bedside.

The attack prompted the Guardian’s Jessica Fund which helped raise £20,000 and helped pay for trip to Florida.

Beddar, 21, was jailed for life for attempted murder.

The teenager, who still suffers from the effects of the attack, continues to attend hospital appointments on a weekly basis and has just had plastic surgery to help reduce the size of one of the largest scars on her arm.

“I used to look at it and it would be a constant reminder of what happened,” she said. “I’m really happy with the results of the surgery, but I need to keep it covered up during the summer so I have to wear a special sleeve.

“The attack is all like a bit of a dream for me – I can’t remember much about it or being in hospital, but that is probably because of the strong drugs that I had to take.

“I don’t really think too much about the person who did it, but I do worry about what will happen when he gets out.

“He’s like an ex-boyfriend that I just want to forget.”

Jessica is now hoping to get an apprenticeship in graphic design, but she has struggled because she missed her last year at school and hasn’t been able to complete a college course due to the recent strokes.

Speaking about her birthday, she added: “JLS would be my perfect present, but I’m forward to going out with my friends and having a family barbecue.”