Solo sailor Jessica Watson turns tragedy to urgent heart plea

The record-breaking solo sailor has turned her heartbreak into an urgent plea for young Australians to take action.Record-breaking solo sailor Jessica Watson has made a desperate plea to Australians to check their blood pressure following the sudden unexpected death of her partner at just 29.Watson’s long-term partner Cameron Dale died on August 30 last year at the Gold Coast Hospital six weeks after suffering a “catastrophic” stroke.Stream the news you want, when you want with Flash. 25+ news channels in 1 place. New to Flash? Try 1 month free. Offer ends 31 October, 2022 >Nine months after his death, Watson is determined to educate young people on the importance of checking and controlling their blood pressure.“Please check your blood pressure! It’s such a simple thing that could save a life,” she wrote in an Instagram post.She urged her followers to share the message and get tested at their local pharmacy or GP this month.Watson said, according to the Stroke Foundation, strokes kill more women than breast cancer, more men than prostate cancer, and 80 per cent are preventable. “Imagine If we can get even a small number of the 5 million Australians with high BP tested – the number of lives that would be saved!” she wrote.“Don’t let a stroke be their first sigh of high blood pressure!”.In 2009, Watson became the youngest solo person to sail around the world non-stop and unassisted when she was just 16 years old. She spent 210 days at sea and returned to Sydney three days before her 17th birthday.She was named Young Australian of the Year in 2011 and received the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to sailing and as a role model for young Australians in 2012.In September 2021, the sailor made the heartbreaking announcement of “our Cam’s” death, calling him her “long-term partner in every aspect of life and planned future.”“Cam and I have been inseparable since 2011, our shared world centred on messing about on boats,” Watson said.“Describing what Cam means to me is impossible – everyone who knows us understands how much we simply loved each other.”She said despite the “indescribable grief” she was grateful for Cam, their families and friends, “and the person I’ve become with him.”“I take enormous strength from having been so devotedly loved,” she continued. “The years of treasured memories offer enormous comfort.”“Being Cam’s ‘Jess’ is the role I’m most proud of.”In March, Watson shared another tribute to Cam and those who offered support through her grief.She said she had been “utterly overwhelmed by the good of so many wonderful people”.“I want to say an enormous thank you to everyone who has helped. Every person who sent a message, a memory of Cam, a card, thank you!“Thank you to everyone who’s got me out on the water sailing. No words required, you guys know what a lifeline it’s been,” she said.“It was my wise little sis who told me early on that some things are too big to bear alone and have to be shared. Thank you to everyone who’s helping carry this.”Originally published as The solo sailor has shared her heartbreak and an urgent health plea after partner’s death