Today the Foreign Office have announced the names of two more Britons killed in an avalanche in the French Alps whilst raising money for the York charity St Leonard’s Hospice.
John Taylor and Steve Barber, both of Pear Tree Avenue in Poppleton, were among the nine climbers killed at 5.30am yesterday on Mont Maudit just above the French town of Chamonix.
The York community is now left in mourning for these two local men who died in what is being described as one of the worst European mountaineering disasters of recent history. Ian Gillies, leader of York council’s Conservative group, who represents Upper Poppleton, told the Guardian: “Devastated doesn’t cover it. I’m sure the people in the village and the wider community will provide the support the families need, not only now but for weeks to come.”
Estelle O’Hara, headteacher of Poppleton Ousebank School, where the men’s children attend also expressed her sadness at the incident in a letter to parents: “It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that two of the climbers killed in yesterday’s avalanche in the French Alps, were parents from Poppleton Ousebank – Steve Barber, father of Frankie in Year 5 and John Taylor, father of Emma in Year 5 and Louise in Year 3.”
She added: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to both Donna Rogers and Karine Taylor who have both lost their life long partners”. The school will also now start a collection for St Leonard’s Hospice, the York charity that cares for people with life-threatening illnesses, both in memory of the climbers and in continuation of their wish to raise money for the organisation.
Janet Morley, director of fundraising for St Leonard’s Hospice, said: “In May, St Leonard’s heard from his partner Donna that Steve Barber intended to do an ice-climb on Mont Blanc and had chosen to raise funds for St Leonard’s Hospice in York as an important local charity.
“We are devastated to hear of Steve’s death and the deaths of John Barber and Roger Payne, as well as of the other victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends today.”
Mr Taylor and Mr Barber were part of 28-strong party who traversing Mont Maudit- meaning “cursed mountain”- who came into difficulties in the early hours of yesterday morning as heavy snow and strong winds caused falling ice, triggering a huge avalanche. A third climber has also been named this morning as Londoner Roger Payne who was an experienced mountaineering guide and former general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council.
Britain’s most famous mountaineer, Sir Chris Bonington, has said that the avalanche could not have been predicted with the BMC claiming that the mountain would have been safe when the group began their trip.