A MEMORIAL service has been held today for nine climbers killed in an avalanche in the French Alps, two of whom were from York.

Steve Barber, 47, and John Taylor, 48, who lived on the same street in Poppleton, were among those who died on Mont Maudit, in the Mont Blanc range near Chamonix, on Thursday morning.

At the service at the Eglise Saint-Michel in the Alpine town today, 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, both of whom had children at Poppleton Ousebank Primary School, were attempting the climb to raise money for St Leonard's Hospice in York. Since the tragedy, donations have been flooding in to Mr Barber's JustGiving page, and the total - which stood at £300 before the tragedy - has today reached more than £3,300.

Among the messages of sympathy to the families of the York climbers posted on the donation page were one which said: "I hope it's a 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 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."