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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Katy Clifton

Family of British mother and son killed in French avalanche say they are ‘beyond heartbroken’


The family of a British mother and son killed in an avalanche in the French Alps have paid tribute, saying they are “beyond heartbroken”.

The pair have been named as Kate Vokes, 54, and her son Archie Vokes, 22, who died after the avalanche swept through an off-piste section of the resort of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains near Mont Blanc on Thursday.

Ms Vokes was chair of the Oglesby Charitable Trust and a director of her family’s property company Bruntwood, as well as deputy chair of the Royal Exchange Theatre and a trustee of charities Shared Health and Focused Care.

Mr Vokes was a personal trainer at Form in Manchester, and in the previous year had achieved his level 1 ski instructor qualification in Canada.

Archie was a personal trainer at Form in Manchester
— (Family handout/PA)

A family spokesperson said: “We are beyond heartbroken at the loss of our beloved, wonderful Kate and Archie. Words cannot express how terrible we all feel nor the hole in our lives that has been left by this tragic accident.

“We kindly ask for privacy as we grieve together as a family.”

The pair had been skiing with other family members before tragedy struck, according to the Bonneville public prosecutor’s office. Another skier, reportedly an instructor, was left injured, and a hiker was killed in a separate area by the avalanche.

The avalanche may have been caused by cross-country skiers, the Bonneville public prosecutor’s office added.

A search-and-rescue effort was deployed, which included around 20 rescuers, two dog teams, a doctor and two helicopters and lasted around five hours.

The prosecutor’s office added that a manslaughter investigation has been opened by police in nearby Chamonix.

It was reported that Saint-Gervais mayor Jean-Marc Peillex had said the weather conditions were too unstable for such outings.

He told BFM television: “It rained, it snowed, it was warm. There are enough marked paths to ski on.

“It’s terrible what happened. A family is decimated, and we are very sad in Saint-Gervais.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson said previously: “We are supporting the family of two British people who died in France and are in contact with the local authorities.”

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