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Two people from York have been killed in the French avalanche

York climbers - killed July 2012

7:53am 13th July 2012
(Updated 4:24pm 13th July 2012)

Two people from York have been killed in the devastating avalanche which has hit the French Alps.

The Foreign Office have confirmed that John Taylor and Steve Barber were killed in the snow and rock fall in the Mount Blanc region.

It's being reported that they were both from Upper Poppleton.


(first image) Stephen Barber

(second image) John Taylor

Stephen Barber

John Taylor

Councillor Ian Gillies, leader of the City of York's Conservative group, reportedly told his fellow councillors he had been informed two of the victims were from the York area at a meeting of the authority last night.

The snow and rock fall on Mount Maudit, near Chamonix has killed 9 people.

French police say four others who went missing, including two British people, are alive but over a dozen people have been injured.

John Taylor and Steve Barber's families have now paid tribute

Tribute from the family of John Taylor, aged 48.

John’s wife Karine Taylor 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.

“John had climbed several challenging mountains across the world, including Mont Blanc on two previous occasions.

“He was a highly respected climber and this event represents a significant loss to the UK climbing community.

“In his personal life, John was a finance director, working within the public and private sectors.

“He will be sadly missed by his work colleagues.

“The family would like to pay tribute to the Mountain Rescue teams based in France and elsewhere that tried to save John and his good friend Steve.

“They would also like to thank the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the assistance offered and provided at this time.”

John, originally from Manchester, moved to Poppleton in 2003. He leaves behind his wife Karine and his two daughters, Emma (10) and Louise (8).

Tribute from the family of Steve Barber, aged 47.

Donna, Steve’s long term partner, said: “As might be expected, the family and I are all devastated at the loss of Steve and his close friend John.

“Steve has lived in Poppleton most of his life. His parents ran the village Post Office before retiring several years ago.

“Steve, like John, loved the outdoors and was a keen walker. He always wanted to climb Mont Blanc, an ambition that this trip was to fulfil. He had been training hard for the ascent and had successfully completed several challenging climbs in Europe and in the UK prior to this trip.

“In his personal life, Steve was a Company Finance Accountant with a Leeds-based finance company.

“The family wish to express their sincere thanks to the men and women of the Mountain Rescue teams who tried so hard to save John and Steve.

“The family also wish to thank friends and close family who have been so supportive at this time.

“They would also like to thank the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the assistance offered and provided at this time.”

Steve leaves behind his long term partner Donna and their daughter Francesca (10) his parents and sister Julie.

A letter has been issued by the headteacher at Poppleton Ousebank School

Estelle O’Hara, headteacher of Poppleton Ousebank School writes:

"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."

Statement from Labour leader of City of York Council

Cllr James Alexander, Labour leader of City of York Council comments:

"I am deeply saddened by the news that two Poppleton residents lost their lives in Thursday's avalanche in Chamonix, France. I would like to offer their families and friends my condolences and offer any support and assistance we can provide at this difficult time."


The other Brit who died has been described as one of the UK's most respected climbers.

Roger Payne used to teach in the North East.

Tributes have started to pour in for the people who died, with the Foreign Secretary and North Yorkshire MP William Hague calling the deaths a "terrible tragedy".


The avalanche struck in the early hours of the morning, a couple of hours after a group of 28 experienced climbers set out on the slopes of Mont Maudit in the Mont Blanc range.

The climb is notorious for avalanches - Mont Maudit translates as Cursed Mountain.

Officials say a block of ice around 40 centimetres or 16 inches thick broke off and slid down the slope, creating a huge drift of snow and rocks.

Rescuers with dogs and helicopters worked to pull the dead and injured from the mountain.

The Foreign Office says it's sending staff from Paris to offer consular assistance.

The other victims are believed to be German, Swiss and Spanish.

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