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Family pays tribute as mother and son who died in French Alps avalanche named

Kate Vokes, 54, and her son Archie Vokes, 22 (Family handout/PA)
Kate Vokes, 54, and her son Archie Vokes, 22 (Family handout/PA)

Two people who died in an avalanche in the French Alps earlier this week were a mother and son from Manchester, their family have said.

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, a director of their family-owned property company Bruntwood, 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.

Kate and Archie Vokes death
Kate Vokes, 54, and her son Archie Vokes, 22, who died when an avalanche swept through an off-piste area of a French ski resort on Thursday (Citypress/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 Royal Exchange Theatre said Ms Vokes was “remarkable” and that she was “our dear friend, colleague and tireless supporter” in a tribute posted on Facebook.

It said: “We are absolutely devastated to hear the news of the death of our deputy chair Kate Vokes and her son Archie in such tragic circumstances.

“Kate was our dear friend, colleague and tireless supporter. She was remarkable.

“Our love and thoughts are with her family at this incredibly sad time.”

The Shared Health Foundation said on Facebook: “We’re shocked and saddened to hear the tragic news of one of Shared Health’s and Focused Care’s directors, Kate Vokes and her loved son Archie.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with this wonderful family.”

They 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 after 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, lasting around five hours.

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

Kate and Archie Vokes death
Kate Vokes and her son Archie Vokes (Citypress/PA)

The Associated Press (AP) reported that Saint-Gervais mayor Jean-Marc Peillex called weather conditions 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.”