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'You can never recover': Harry Greaves' parents open up two years after backpacker's death

By Jonny Drury | Oswestry | News | Published:

Almost two-and-a-half years ago the Greaves family received the devastating news that their son Harry had died while backpacking around Peru.

Harry Greaves was backpacking in the Peruvian Andes when he disappeared in April 2016

Harry Greaves was last seen on April 7, 2016, two days before his 29th birthday, when he set out on a solo mountain hike in the Peruvian Andes.

He was due to be back three days later, but when he never returned a search was launched and almost a fortnight later his body was found at the bottom of a 40-metre cliff.

There was a mountain of support for his parents Simon and Sarah, and their family, as well as an outpouring of grief in the Bronygarth and Oswestry area.

Later this year will be two and a half years since the tragedy of Harry’s death, and his father Simon has spoken about how he and his wife, and other family members have coped in the difficult time that has followed his passing.

A year of horror

His cousin David lost his battle with motor neurone disease soon in the same year, and another family member also suffered health issues.

Simon said: “It was a year of horror, it was devastating.

Harry was last seen two days before his 29th birthday

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“After Harry had passed away it was a horrible time, and hard to deal with.

“At that time there were other things going on to occupy us, Harry’s cousin David was battling with Motor Neurone Disease.

“We were supporting our other family members which sort of occupied us.

“Another family member was also ill and it was a devastating time.

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“Then in the winter months it has been really difficult and hard.

“I think it isn’t possible to ever recover from the loss of a child, it isn’t as painful now as it was back then, but you never recover from it.”

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Simon described his son, who lived in Bronygarth and moved to Wrexham, as a well-liked and well-known man around the Oswestry area.

He made furniture for a company in the area, before embarking on his trip to Peru where he had set off along on a three day trek.

A major search of the area was launched to find Harry, and on April 19 a tent was found and his body was found at the bottom of a cliff.

Harry was a talented furniture maker

His body was repatriated to the UK and a post mortem found he died from multiple injuries.

When he was first reported missing, his mother Sarah and cousin Lucy flew to Peru, and an appeal for donations to aid the search raised more than £33,000.

Simon has admitted the support the public showed in the time of tragedy was one thing that kept his family going.

“The travel insurance only paid for Harry’s body to be brought back to the UK,” Simon added.

Harry's memorial

“And you had to pay for a search operation, with a helicopter costing £10,000 an hour, so a fundraising campaign began and it raised over £30,000 in the first few hours.

“The support we received for that was fantastic, it was so supportive of people to help for this and it was a real comfort to our family.”

Poetry

Another way that Simon and his wife have coped in the two years following their son’s death is through his poems.

A book of poetry was put together by his parents, included poems he had written entitled A Life Lived In Love, This Is My Dream and What It Is To Be A Man.

Simon said both he and his wife Sarah had taken great comfort from the poems in the months and years following his death.

He added: “His poems have come as great comfort to us both following Harry’s passing.

“In the days leading up to putting the book out we put the poems out on Harry’s Facebook page, for everyone to see how nice they were and how talented he was.”

New nephew

The year following Harry’s death was incredibly tough for his parents and his family, but 11 months later the family welcomed a new member.

Simon and Sarah’s daughter gave birth to a little boy, who was fittingly named Harry.

Simon added: “After what had happened in the year before, it was fantastic to have the arrival of Harry.

“My wife goes down to Bristol to look after him and his brother, and it was lovely that he was given the name Harry.”

After Harry’s body was returned to the UK and a post mortem had taken place, he was finally laid to rest near to his home in Bronygarth.

A Yurt Maze Day took place last year to remember him and his cousin David, and raised £2,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Harry’s memory continues to live on, however Simon added: “The pain eases but we still feel the loss of Harry.”

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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