Headteacher appalled by Zanzibar acid attack on ‘popular and lively’ student

Katie Gee. Picture: Facebook.

Katie Gee. Picture: Facebook. - Credit: Archant

Community figures have rallied to wish two Hampstead Garden Suburb girls a full and speedy recovery after they suffered severe burns in a horrific acid attack on the African island of Zanzibar.

Kirstie Trup. Picture: Facebook.

Kirstie Trup. Picture: Facebook. - Credit: Archant

Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee, both 18, arrived back in the UK from Tanzania on an emergency flight on Friday after being doused in a corrosive substance by two men on mopeds as they walked through Zanzibar’s capital city.

MP for Golders Green and Finchley Mike Freer says the girls were 'adhering to local customs' before

MP for Golders Green and Finchley Mike Freer says the girls were 'adhering to local customs' before they were attacked with acid. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

The teenagers, who had travelled to the holiday island to work as volunteer teachers, were taken straight to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on their return, where Katie, of Linden Lea, remained for treatment as the Ham&High went to press yesterday.

Kirstie, who lives a short distance from her friend in Winnington Road, was discharged on Sunday but is set to return to the hospital for a skin graft operation today.

Vivienne Durham, headteacher of Francis Holland School in Regent’s Park, spoke fondly of Katie, who attended the independent all-girls school from 2006 to 2011, leaving with ten GCSEs, including two A*s and eight A to B grades.

She said: “We were just appalled to hear what had happened. I have no idea what the facts of the matter are, but whatever’s happened is horrible and I wish her a very speedy and full recovery.”

She added: “Katie was very popular, very lively and very happy.

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“She was academically successful and she had lots of friends. She thrived at school and she enjoyed things.”

Katie, who also attended The Village School in Belsize Park, joined the Jewish Free School Sixth Form, in Kenton, Brent, where Kirstie was also a pupil, upon leaving Francis Holland.

Both girls were set to receive their A-level results today.

Hampstead Garden Suburb councillor Daniel Seal spoke of his shock at the attack, which made national headlines.

He said: “I’ve heard that the girls are long residents of the Suburb and from two lovely, well-respected families.

“It’s a shame that two very bright and charming girls were going to do some amazing international development work and their experience was cut short by this tragic attack.

“They went away to do good and this awful thing happened to them. Our thoughts are with them and their family.”

A spokeswoman for Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue, in Norrice Lea, said neither of the girls nor their families are members of the synagogue but that the Jewish community is “deeply shocked” by the attack.

Police in Zanzibar continue to investigate.

As Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee’s representative in Parliament, Golders Green and Finchley MP Mike Freer was in regular contact with their families last week as they endured a 48-hour wait to get the teenagers home from Africa.

He told the Ham&High: “My role was to make sure the family had the support from the Foreign Office they needed. The Foreign Office provided regular updates and it appears they did a good job.

“I kept in contact with Mr Gee [Katie’s father] to make sure things were going smoothly. They are families who know what they are doing and were able to support their daughters.

“Obviously the families were very distressed and their main concern was to get the two girls out of Zanzibar and back home. After a horrible attack, it looked as though the evacuation went well.

“The families were especially distressed as they didn’t know what condition their daughters were in.

“While staying in Zanzibar, the girls, as far as we can tell, were doing everything right. They were adhering to local customs. It was just a horrible, horrible attack.”