Aged 28, Ben was attempting a solo climb to the 6,096m summit of Shimshal Whitehorn when he did not return as planned. In the days afterwards, search and rescue teams failed to find any sign of Ben in the Karakoram mountains, in the Hunza Valley region.
Ben's mother, Heather Cheek, says “We will never know exactly what happened to him. Words cannot describe how much we miss him.”
In honour of Ben
Relatives decided to remember Ben, known to many as Benjie, by donating to SOS Children's work in northern Pakistan. Heather explains why:
“Ben first visited Pakistan in the summer of 2006 and was truly touched by the warmth and kindness of the local mountain people who welcomed him into their homes. As a family we experienced the same warmth and compassion from the local people who were involved in the search for Ben.
In honour of Ben, we are raising money to help build and support a Children's Village in the mountains of northern Pakistan for orphans of the 2005 earthquake. This Village will be built in Rawalakot. We know Benjie would be so proud to be helping the children there.”
In the years since, Ben's friends and family have continued to fundraise for this cause. Most recently, donations were given to mark what would have been Ben's 35th birthday, on the 12th January.
A never-ending gift
The SOS Youth Homes in Rawalakot will provide teenagers, many of them orphans, with a secure base from which to plan their futures. They will be supported to complete further education, gain qualifications, and learn to live independently.
Julie from SOS Children says,
“Each donation, whatever the size, as well as remembering Benjie's life, also represents an investment in the life of each child who will live at Rawalakot.
As the children who live in the home grow up and have their own children, the gifts of those who give to SOS will be never ending. In short, the acorn of those who gave in Benjie's memory can be confident that a mighty oak will grow where it has been planted.”
In time, with donations from more of our supporters, we will be able to complete the Children's Village in Rawalakot and provide loving family homes for younger children.