Helen’s Big Heart
by Sam Beamish | Cornwall Live | May 13, 2021
A close friend of the late Helen McCrory has told how the star supported her family through her daughter’s illness and death. Fiona Nash said the actor would do “anything for anyone” and was a “very kind and generous person”.
Fiona’s daughter Torie Benson died 10 years ago at age 30 due to cervical cancer.
To mark the anniversary of her death and raise money for the charity that supported her, Fiona’s 18-year-old son Toby Benson ran from Land’s End to The Lizard and back on Tuesday (May 11).
So far he has raised £15,500 for Marie Curie and is being backed by McCrory’s husband, actor Damian Lewis.
Fiona, who lives near Land’s End, said: “I knew Helen for a very long time. I spoke to her husband last week at the funeral and I said Toby wanted to run for Helen as well as Torie.”
She said he was very supportive of the fundraiser and made a donation.
She recalled that when Torie was at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead, McCrory, who died of cancer last month, aged 52, was very supportive of Fiona and the family.
She explained: “She knew I spent six months there with Torie. After Torie died Helen did a lot of fundraising for Marie Curie.
“She was amazingly kind. She was a very kind and generous person. She would do anything for anyone and was a massive philanthropist.
“She was on GMTV a month before she died with Damian talking about their charity work with the Prince’s Trust helping young people affected by Covid-19.”
After McCrory died three weeks ago following a “heroic” battle with cancer, Lewis released a statement in which he said he was “heartbroken” and “she blazed so brightly”.
Fiona said: “No-one knew she was sick apart from a very few. It’s had a big impact on certainly me and the rest of the family.”
Toby said: “Helen’s death was very tragic. She was a very good family friend.”
After seeing the support his sister received from Marie Curie he said he felt obliged to support it.
He said: “It’s a charity very close to our hearts. As I’ve grown up I’ve felt more and more obliged to do as much as I can for them.”
He said he was “very close” to Torie and described her as the “ideal sister” and like a “second mum”.
Fiona explained: “It was very difficult when Torie died. Toby was only eight or nine. It had a big impact on everyone.
“He wanted to mark 10 years since her death in a positive way rather than be sad about it. He’s a very kind and thoughtful boy and has an amazing work ethic.
“When he told me what he wanted to do I thought, ‘he’s nuts, it’s something ultra marathon runners would struggle with’.”
During Toby’s challenge he ran a distance of 100km and didn’t arrive back at Land’s End until after 9.30pm, where he was met by friends and family.
Some of siblings and friends also joined him for various legs of the run.
Toby said: “It went really well. A lot of people put some good miles in with me. There was a lot of people around to support us. I’m thankful for everyone who has helped. The amount of money raised is incredible.”
Fiona said: “The support he’s had has been incredible. The JustGiving page is still going.”
If you would like to support Toby’s fundraiser click here.