BY CALUM FRASER
Parents of a London Bridge terror attack victim have launched a charity in her memory.
Sara Zelenak, 21, was one of eight people killed during the attack on London Bridge in June last year when a van ploughed into pedestrians before three attackers jumped out and rampaged through the streets with knives.
The Australian girl’s parents, Mark and Julie Wallace, have set up a grief counselling charity called Sarz Sanctuary in her memory.
Mrs Wallace said: “Losing Sara when she was only 21 crushed my spirit, spiralled me into turmoil and devastated my family. “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to lose their child; the shock and grief is unimaginable.
As parents, we’re not sure we will ever come to terms with losing Sara, but we’re determined to give purpose to her loss by establishing the Sarz Sanctuary charity.”
Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba, who carried out the attack which injured 48 people on top of those who were killed, were shot dead at the scene.
Mark Wallace said: “Creating Sarz Sanctuary is our way of honouring Sara’s life and keeping her spirit alive.
“We have named the charity using her nickname ‘Sarz’, and included her own handwriting as our logo.
The charity’s mission is also a true reflection of the kind of love Sara taught everyone around her when she was with us – unconditional, unchanging, without barriers, forgiving, nurturing and supportive; a love that can lift others from defeat.
“Our hope for the future is that, through the charity, other individuals experiencing traumatic grief will feel supported to heal in their own way without being defeated.”
Following Sara’s death, Mark and Julie came to realise the complexity of grief. After trying many different types of therapy, they discovered that everyone heals from grief in different ways.
The Sarz Sanctuary healing centre aims to provide a place where grieving relatives can attend seven-day funded programmes that provide guests with access to counsellors, physiotherapists, reiki therapists, yoga instructors, dieticians and more.
James Galvin, ex-Met officer and UK trustee for Sarz Sanctuary, said: “Having first-hand experience of the impact terror incidents have on victims, their families and the emergency services, the establishment of Sarz Sanctuary by Mark and Julie is a force for good that will give those touched by traumatic grief new found hope.
“With the skills I’ve developed working as a family liaison officer, I’ll be doing everything I can to help Sarz Sanctuary plan the first healing centre, from taking part in fundraising to setting out a strategy for the charity in the UK.”
In their first fundraising effort Mark and Julie cycled for eight days from London to Paris in an event called ‘Meet You in Paris’ – the words of the last text message Julie received from Sara hours before the attack. Mark and Julie hope to build a strong community through the first healing centre and, with backing from the public, build a healing centre in the UK.
To find out more visit: www.sarz-sanctuary.org.
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