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Prayers for tragic climbers
CHURCHGOERS observed a minute’s silence in memory of two York climbers killed in the French avalanche.
Reverend Jeremy Sylvester yesterday asked the congregation of All Saints Church, on The Green, in Poppleton, to bow their heads and remember local residents Steve Barber, 47, and John Taylor, 48, who died on Mont Maudit, in the Mont Blanc range near Chamonix, on Thursday morning.
The two climbers, who lived on the same street in Poppleton, were among the nine people who died in the Alps avalanche.
All those who attended the hour-long service yesterday were also asked to send a prayer for the families of both Mr Barber and Mr Taylor, both of whom had children at Poppleton Ousebank Primary School.
It followed a memorial service held in the French Alps on Saturday. At the service at the Eglise Saint-Michel in the Alpine town, the name of each of the victims was read out and a candle was lit for them.
French authorities believe wind triggered the avalanche – described as the deadliest in recent memory –which also killed Roger Payne, 55, one of the UK’s most respected climbers, three Germans, two Spaniards and a Swiss mountaineer.
“They left us too quickly, like a flame extinguished too soon by a violent gust of wind before it could give its full light,” Father Georges Vigliano, the parish priest of Chamonix, told the service.
Mr Barber and Mr Taylor were attempting the climb to raise money for St Leonard’s Hospice in York.
Donations have been flooding in to Mr Barber’s JustGiving page, and the total – which stood at £300 before the tragedy – last night reached more than £4,460.
Among the messages of sympathy to the families of Mr Barber and Mr Taylor, posted on the donation page, was one which said: “I hope it’s a consolation to know your loved ones’ story has inspired a lot of people. Be strong at a difficult time.”
Another read “For the man who loved mountains”, while one donor wrote: “We hope your families will find some comfort in that you were doing something you loved and raising money to help others.”
A friend of Mr Barber wrote: “So sorry to hear the news, played football on a Monday night with Stevie. What a really nice fella, a true gent. RIP”
An anonymous donor said: “We did not know these brave men. Such an awful price to pay when all they were doing is helping other. Our heart goes out to their families.”
One donor poignantly wrote: “For Steve and John. Not gone, just out of sight over the horizon. Heartfelt understanding to all left behind. Our daughter is climbing in the Alps.”
Another said: “I cried when I heard. Big men with bigger hearts. Come on and dig deeper and follow the cause these men were striving for.”
A spokesman for the hospice said the charity was “moved by the donations”, adding: “Many people who have no connection with Steve or John or the hospice are using the JustGiving page as a way of commemorating their lives.
“If anything at all good has come of this dreadful story, I think it’s the fact that people are helping the hospice and helping people in York and the surrounding area who have life-threatening illnesses.
“We’re always grateful for any support we can get, even in the very sad circumstances like this.”
• Two more climbers have died on Mont Blanc in the Alps following the deaths of nine people last week in a massive avalanche.
A military official from the Alpine rescue team in Entreves, Italy, said that the bodies of a Polish woman and Spanish man were found 14,436ft (4,400 meters) up on the Dome du Gouter, on the Italian-French border.
He said the two had been climbing with two Spaniards when they got caught in bad weather on Friday night.
On reaching a mountain refuge yesterday the two Spaniards alerted authorities who sent help for their friends.
The official said an Italian rescue helicopter located the two last night, but they were already dead.
• To donate to the online fundraising page set up to support St Leonard’s Hospice, visit justgiving.com/stevebarber