Donations up for climbers' charity
The deaths of two friends attempting to climb Mont Blanc have prompted a surge in donations for the charity for which they were fundraising.
Neighbours Steve Barber, 47, and John Taylor, 48, were killed in an avalanche in the French Alps, alongside fellow Briton Roger Payne, one of the UK's most respected climbers and former general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).
Mr Barber and Mr Taylor lived on the same street in Upper Poppleton, a village to the north-west of York, and both had children at Poppleton Ousebank School. They were attempting the climb to raise money for St Leonard's Hospice in York.
Before news of their deaths emerged, there had been about 20 donations on Mr Barber's page on the JustGiving website, totalling about £300. More than 88 people have now promised money, with the total last night topping £2,393.
Nine climbers were killed as they traversed Mont Maudit - or Cursed Mountain - in the Mont Blanc range near Chamonix in the early hours of Thursday morning. Among the other victims were three Germans, two Spaniards and one Swiss climber.
French authorities believe wind triggered the avalanche, caused by heavy snow. A memorial service is to take place at a church in Chamonix later in tribute to all of the victims.
The families of Mr Taylor, who was originally from Manchester, and Mr Barber both said they were devastated.
Mrs Taylor said her husband, who was father to Emma, 10, and Louise, eight, had climbed Mont Blanc twice previously. She said: "We are all truly devastated about this loss. John always had a keen interest in outdoor activities, taking up mountaineering in 1998, and was a highly regarded and very active member of mountain rescue teams himself."
Mr Barber's long-term partner Donna Rogers, with whom he had a daughter, 10-year-old Francesca, said: "As might be expected, the family and I are all devastated at the loss of Steve and his close friend John."
The mountaineering world has paid tribute to Mr Payne. Dave Turnbull, chief executive of the BMC, said he was "shocked and saddened" by the death of the avalanche instructor and mountain guide. He added: "Roger was one of the UK's most enthusiastic and respected climbers, with a track record of Alpine and Himalayan mountaineering stretching back to the 1980s."