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Dagenham family raising £1,000 in memory of animal-loving mum who lost battle with breast cancer

PUBLISHED: 17:49 21 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:49 21 October 2019

Teresa Wright with her grandson Jack O'Connor, five months. Picture: Catherine O’Connor.

Teresa Wright with her grandson Jack O'Connor, five months. Picture: Catherine O'Connor.

Catherine O’Connor

A Dagenham family is trying to raise £1,000 to pay for a bench honouring their gorilla-loving mum and support the animal conservation she cherished.

Teresa Wright with her father Ted Marshall. Picture: Stacey Adams.Teresa Wright with her father Ted Marshall. Picture: Stacey Adams.

Teresa Wright died on October 13 after fighting breast cancer on-and-off for 19 years. She began to love gorillas more than a decade ago when one was adopted for her as a gift, according to her daughter Stacey Adams.

Ms Wright and her family would visit Howletts and Port Lympne wild animal parks in Kent to get a glimpse of the primates. The family even paid for her to come-face-to face with her favourite animals in special "encounters".

Both of the parks are run by animal conservation charity the Aspinall Foundation.

To honour the memory of Ms Wright, they want a place where people can sit and enjoy the wildlife just like she did, as well as give money to a good cause.

Teresa Wright, her daughter Catherine O’Connor, Stacey Adams, Teresa Wright and Henry O'Connor (bottom) at Port Lympne wildlife park. Picture: Christine Richards.Teresa Wright, her daughter Catherine O’Connor, Stacey Adams, Teresa Wright and Henry O'Connor (bottom) at Port Lympne wildlife park. Picture: Christine Richards.

"My mum was a very big animal lover," said Ms Adams.

"She never dreamed she would get so close to [the gorillas].

"She could happily watch them for hours if we would let her. She absolutely adored them.

"The parks were just her favourite places, she loved them."

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Commenting on what her mum felt when she saw the animals, Ms Adams added: "It was just joy, I think, sheer joy. She had an appreciation for how beautiful they were and how intelligent they were."

The family got the idea for the bench when people began asking if flowers or donations were preferred for Ms Wright's funeral on October 24.

Helping to keep the Aspinall Foundation's work alive and creating a place to appreciate one of Ms Wright's greatest joys seemed fitting.

"In my mind's eye, I can see my mum sitting there, enjoying the view."

While she loved wildlife, Ms Adams said her mum was good to people, too.

"She was very big-hearted," she said.

"She would help whenever she could. She was very kind and compassionate. She had great empathy.

"She was just a rich, wonderful woman."

Ms Wright's family is currently speaking to the Aspinall Foundation about getting the bench in one of its parks. Donations to the cause can be made at gofundme.com/f/saz9e-mums-memorial-bench.

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