Family’s 10-year heartache over son lost in Himalayas

Gareth Koch, who went missing in Nepal in 2004

Gareth Koch, who went missing in Nepal in 2004

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

TEN years on from her son’s disappearance in the Himalayas, Gill Koch is still struggling to accept that he is dead.

Gareth Koch, of Wantage, was 24 when he went missing without trace in Nepal.

A decade after her son’s disappearance, Mrs Koch said she cannot say her son is dead without evidence to prove it.

She added: “No-one has proved that Gareth is dead and it feels wrong to say that he is dead if there is no proof.

“The only time I think we will be notified is if anything is found.”

Mrs Koch, a 57-year-old GP practice information manager, lives with her husband David, 58, a Ministry of Defence instructor, in Charlton Village Road, Wantage.

Oxford Mail:

Gareth’s parents Gill and David Koch say not knowing is unbearable

She said: “People have been so kind over the past 10 years and that has made a tremendous difference – we are very grateful for their support.

“We are mum and dad hanging on in there and Gareth is still very much in our thoughts – we still talk about him.

“You don’t get over what happened – it’s there all the time. Your life moves on but you have to deal with the not knowing.”

Their other son Adam, a 32-year-old Birmingham police officer, was stabbed last year on duty but has made a good recovery and is marrying his fiancée Anna Winter today.

Mrs Koch said: “We are very proud of both our boys.”

Gareth, a retail shop manager and Scout leader, left England for Nepal on February 20, 2004.

He had separated from companion Ian Napier and was last spotted on March 8 by other trekkers after he left Chukung and headed towards Kathmandu.

Gareth was a keen Scout from the age of eight and in 2007 his family sponsored the Gareth Koch Endeavour Shield at the Youlbury International Scout campsite in Boars Hill.

The shield competition takes place every year.

Gareth was a pupil at Wantage Primary School and at King Alfred’s School, now an academy.

In 2004, people in Wantage raised funds for the Kochs to visit Nepal and follow their son’s route. They could find no trace of him.

But there would be little point in returning to Nepal 10 years on, Mrs Koch said. “All you could do is walk the route. The trekkers all look alike so it would be very unlikely if anyone there could pick him out.”

She added: “After 10 years we are coping.”

Mr and Mrs Koch created “trekker intention” books for hostels in the area where he went missing to help locate others if they disappear.

The family set up the website garethkochlostinnepal.co.uk in an effort to find him.

 

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