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Tributes paid to RAF Valley doc killed in avalanche.

Byline: OWEN HUGHES

TRIBUTES have been paid to an "exceptional RAF mountaineer" from Anglesey killed in an avalanche in Scotland.

Sqn Ldr Rimon Than, 33, a doctor based at RAF Valley, was one of three people who died after the avalanche hit the Chalamain Gap area of the Scottish Highlands.

He had been based at RAF Valley for over a year and was well known and respected with mountaineering groups.

RAF Valley station commander, Group Captain Adrian Hillsaid: "Sqn Ldr Than was the Senior Medical Officer and was a fine, dedicated officer and doctor. He was passionate about mountaineering and his death is a tragedy. He was well respected and popular and will be sorely missed by all personnel at RAF Valley. Our thoughts are with his family."

Wg Cdr Ian Richardson, chairman of the RAF Mountaineering Association, said: "He was a unique and talented individual: a fine doctor and a passionate mountaineer.

"A long time member of the RAF Mountaineering Association, Rimon was a hugely capable climber with extensive experience of mountaineering at high altitudes.

"He had only recently returned from a highly successful expedition to China.

"Seemingly a quiet individual, Rimon had a wry sense of humour and an emphatically pragmatic outlook on all aspects of life. Devoted to his partner Claire, they lived a life of adventure together, as his holiday photos would testify."

Bryn Williams, executive officer with Mountain Training Cymru, based at Capel Curig, said: "Rimon was a friend to many people here and news of his death has come as a shock, it is never the news you want to hear. This is so tragic."

" Sqn Ldr Andy Grieve, Deputy Senior Medical Officer at Valley added:Rimon was a dear friend. We were passionate about the same things - adventure, the hills, pre-hospital care, the RAF and medicine. I will miss him terribly.

Born in Burma, Sqn Ldr Than joined the RAF in 2001 and prior to his assignment to Valley had served at bases in High Wycombe and Lyneham.

Talking about the incident, Inspector Murdoch MacLeod of Northern Constabulary said: "It is now known there were two groups of climbers in the area at the time on opposite sides of the gorge (gap).

"One group was part of a Glenmore Lodge organised winter skills training course and the second was a separate group comprising off-duty RAF personnel climbing in the area. "At around 12.30pm an avalanche occurred in the area and three people, two from the RAF and one from the Glenmore team, were caught up in the avalanche.

"The search got underway very quickly and mountain rescue teams were joined by two rescue helicopters.

"Once the casualties were loc-ated they were airlifted to Aberdeen Infirmary, where they were sadly pronounced dead."

He added: "Clearly, this is a very tragic incident and our thoughts are currently with the families of those who have lost their lives."

He added while all next of kin have been identified the families of the other victims have asked for time to inform other friends and relatives and no other details were released.

CAPTION(S):

RAF Valleybased doctor Squadron Leader Rimon Than died in an avalanche in the Cairngorms (inset)
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Feb 16, 2013
Words:532
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