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Avalanche victims died helping others.

Byline: RUTH LUMLEY

TWO Britons killed in an avalanche in the French Alps were fathers of young children and had been raising funds for a local hospice.

Steve Barber, 47, and John Taylor, 48, lived in the same street in Upper Poppleton, a village to the north-west of York. They both had children at Poppleton Ousebank School.

The third British man who lost his life after being hit by a massive wall of snow was Roger Payne, one of the UK's most respected climbers and former general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).

A total of nine climbers were killed as they traversed Mont Maudit - translated as Cursed Mountain - in the Mont Blanc range near Chamonix. Among the other victims were three Germans, two Spaniards and one Swiss climber.

They were part of a 28-strong group which left a climbing hut to attempt the route, described by local guides as the second most popular to the top of Mont Blanc, in the early hours of yesterday morning.

A church service is to be held in Chamonix this afternoon in memory of the dead climbers, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said. Parents at Poppleton Ousebank School were told in a letter from headteacher Estelle O'Hara: "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.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to both Donna Rogers and Karine Taylor who have both lost their life-long partners.

"Children have been informed and school staff have been supporting them throughout the day, providing a caring shoulder and answering any questions that children may have.

"We would ask that people respect the families' privacy at this sad time. We understand that the climb was to raise money for St Leonard's Hospice and so we will be collecting on their behalf."

Leader of the City of York Council's Conservative group, councillor Ian Gillies, who represents Upper Poppleton, said: "Devastated doesn't cover it, really.

"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."

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Victims Steve Barber (left), John Taylor and (right) Roger Payne, former general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 14, 2012
Words:405
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