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Highgate man to honour late sister with Great Wall of China trek

Zach de Botton is preparing to trek along the Great Wall of China. Picture: Polly Hancock. Zach de Botton is preparing to trek along the Great Wall of China. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
9:00 AM

The brother of a former Highgate schoolgirl who died of cervical cancer in 2011 is preparing to honour her memory with a charity trek along the Great Wall of China.

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Zach de Botton, 25, will set off on a five-day trek across the ancient wall in May 2015 to raise money for Marie Curie Hospice Hampstead in Lyndhurst Gardens.

Along with friend Richard Cook, 34, Zach is aiming to raise £7,000 for the hospice, which cared for his late sister Torie Benson during her battle with cervical cancer.

Torie, who attended Channing School in The Bank, Highgate, was diagnosed with the disease in 2009 and passed away, aged 30, in May 2011.

Zach, who also lost his father to a heart attack six months before his sister’s death, said: “I don’t think the pain really goes away.

“I don’t like to pick favourites but out of everyone in my family, I was definitely closest to Torie. She was the rock that held the family together.

“It’s almost like a part of you is gone. I don’t think any of us have fully come to terms with it. The whole ordeal really changes your outlook on life.

“I don’t think it ever gets easier but maybe the time lapses between the intense bouts of grieving get longer.”

Zach, of Sussex Gardens, Highgate, and his family take part in a charity walk in aid of Marie Curie on the anniversary of Torie’s death each year, starting from her memorial bench in Waterlow Park.

He says that he will keep fundraising for Marie Curie and its Hampstead hospice for the rest of his life.

“Having seen first-hand how hard the staff work, it’s the least I can do,” he said.

“They hold a really special place in my heart. Everyone who works there seems to be a really phenomenal person.

“They always took the time to remember your name, stopped to talk to you in the hallway – little things that can really make a difference.”

For more information about Zach’s charity trek in China and to donate, visit www.justgiving.com/zachandcookie-china

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