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Sister 'overwhelmed' by tributes to North Finchley legend Horace White
Horace White with his sister Selina Higgins who said she was 'overwhelmed' by the support shown to her family since his death
The sister of popular Horace White says she has been “overwhelmed” by the level of support for her family in the aftermath of his death.
Since he passed away last Monday, almost 10,000 people have ‘Liked’ a Facebook group entitled ‘RIP Horace’ and sister Selina Higgins says she has been “amazed” by the public’s response.
A petition to have a bench laid in the 54-year-old’s memory has attracted more than 5,300 web signatures, while dozens of people have laid flowers and messages of condolence in North Finchley High Road.
Horace, born Stanley Alfred White, was extremely well known in the North Finchley area, where he hung around outside shops and chatted to passers-by almost every day for more than three decades.
He was best known for wishing people the “best of luck” and would famously remember the names of anyone he came across.
Few people knew that the enigmatic figure, who had learning disabilities, lived with with chronic diabetes since the early 1980s.
Mother-of-one Mrs Higgins says she has been left devastated by the passing of her younger brother, who collapsed and died outside the Whittington Hospital, in Archway, on September 24.
The 66-year-old, of Gloucester Road, Edmonton, said: “I called Horace my inheritance. When my father died in 1991 it was just me and him. I said ‘while there’s blood in my body, Horace will be mine and he will want for nothing’.
“It became a habit for him, going up to Finchley – it was like a person going to work. For him, going on that 263 bus to Finchley, sitting and doing his drawings - it was like his work.”
Despite being named Stanley by his parents, the popular character preferred to be called Horace and would famously chase any schoolchildren who called him his birth name.
Mrs Higgins said: “I wish I knew why he hated ‘Stanley’ so much. Privately we called him that but he hated that name. We don’t know where ‘Horace’ came from.
“He was a lovely person. He had a quick temper but would deflate immediately. He had learning disabilities but you wouldn’t think so from hearing him speak. He was very well spoken.”
Mrs Higgins, who lives with her husband Neville and has a son named John, was with her brother when he collapsed last week.
She said: “I was hysterical. I was screaming ‘don’t leave me Horace, please get up’. He was looking at me as though he wanted to say something but he couldn’t get the words out.
“He is my baby, I miss him so much. It is so painful for us. I never looked at him as my brother – he was more like my son.”
Since the tragic event of his death, Mrs Higgins has been unable to return to Horace’s flat but says her grief is being softened by the messages of support from complete strangers.
She said: “I’m so overwhelmed. I feel like I’m living in a nightmare and a dream. The dream is the support that we have been getting from everyone – it helps me deal with my grief – but the nightmare is that I have lost my baby.”
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