Radio Sandwell News

Nepal plane crash: UK dead remembered

2012-09-29 08:19:26

Family, friends and colleagues have paid tribute to seven British men who were among 19 people killed in a plane crash in Nepal.

Angie Gaunt, wife of Timothy Oakes, 57, from Winwick, Cheshire, said he had "lived life to the full".

Vincent Kelly, 50, was described as a "wonderful powerhouse of a man" by friend Mark Brocklehurst.

Seven Nepalis, including some crew members, and five Chinese nationals also died in the crash in Kathmandu.

The Sita Air plane came down minutes after taking-off from Kathmandu airport bound for the Everest region.

As well as Mr Oakes and Mr Kelly, the other Britons killed have been named by local travel company Sherpa Adventures as:

  • Stephen Holding, 60, from Barlaston in Staffordshire;
  • Raymond Eagle, 58, from Macclesfield in Cheshire;
  • Christopher Davey, 51;
  • Mr Kelly's brother Darren Kelly, 45, both originally from Lostock, Bolton;
  • Benjamin Ogden, 27, who lived in London.

The youngest British victim, Mr Ogden, was a graduate of Oxford University and had recently qualified as an associate for London-based international law firm Allen & Overy.

A spokesman for the company said: "As well as being an excellent lawyer, Ben was a very popular member of the firm.

"It was clear to everyone that he had an incredibly promising career ahead of him. Ben will be deeply missed by all who knew him."

'Trip of a lifetime'

Having arrived in Nepal on Wednesday, the British group had been due to start trekking on Friday on an expedition scheduled to last until mid-October.

The start of autumn marks the beginning of the Himalayan trekking season, which is popular with Western climbers.

Ms Gaunt said her husband had "died doing something he always wanted to do".

Mourning the loss with the couple's daughter, she added: "It should never deter people from living out their dreams. It was the trip of a lifetime, he had always wanted to do it.

"People have got to live and enjoy what they want to do. That is exactly what Tim would want people to do."

Mr Oakes and Mr Holding were both members of the Bremex Mountaineering and Climbing Club.

Fellow club member Matt Morton described Mr Holding as "a gentle giant of a man".

"He was tall, quietly spoken and just a genuinely nice chap - he was always interested in what other people were doing and always happy to have a chat."

Darren Kelly is said to have been a semi-retired businessman who had moved in recent years to the Isle of Whithorn, in Dumfries and Galloway, where he was involved in regeneration work.

"Darren was just a really nice bloke," said a friend, who asked not to be named. "You would struggle to find anyone who could say anything bad about him. He was just a first-class guy."

Company director Vincent Kelly was also a fundraiser for Bolton Lads & Girls Club, and had last year completed a sponsored bike ride from John O'Groats to Lands' End.

"His generosity meant that more than 400 young people per week are now able to continue to play all weather sports upon the new Astroturf pitch," said a club statement.

"There aren't enough words to describe just how wonderful Vincent was - a dedicated family man with a generous heart of gold who was a perfect role model for all," said Mr Brocklehurst.

Mr Eagle worked as a support worker at Cheshire East Council, where a spokesman said he had "enabled people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes".

"He did go trekking, he was a fell runner and very, very active in outdoor activities," said neighbour Pauline Girdwood. "He was a go-getter, so in a way I'm not surprised that that is where he was."

Bird strike claim

The cause of the crash has not yet been officially confirmed.

The general manager of Tribhuvan International Airport, Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, said in a statement that the plane, a twin-propeller Dornier, had struck a vulture soon after take-off.

Officials said the aircraft crashed into a river bank and caught fire.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who is on a trade trip to Brazil, described the accident as "absolutely horrific".

The British ambassador to Nepal, John Tucknott, told the BBC: "If family members wish to come to Nepal, we stand by to offer them every assistance we possibly can at this very difficult time."

Adventure travel company Explore Worldwide, based in Farnborough, Hampshire, confirmed that the Britons had been its clients.

Managing director Ashley Toft said: "We are devastated by this news. Our thoughts are very much with the families of those affected, both in the UK and in Nepal.

"The basic facts are that Sita Air operates scheduled flights and is approved by airline authorities. The weather was good. The plane was departing for Lukla and our passengers were heading for Everest Base Camp at the start of their trek."


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