Manchester mother and son named as pair who died in French Alps avalanche

Kate and Archie Vokes death Credit: Family picture/PA Images

A mother and son have been named as those who died in an avalanche in the French Alps shortly after Christmas.

Kate Vokes, 54, and her son Archie, 22, both from Manchester, lost their lives after the avalanche swept through an off-piste section of the resort of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains near Mont Blanc on 28 December.

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 had achieved his level 1 ski instructor qualification in Canada in 2022.

In a statement released by the family, they said a hole had been left in their lives following the accident.

The 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.”

Credit: Family picture

In a tribute to the mum, The Royal Exchange Theatre said Ms Vokes was “remarkable” and was “our dear friend, colleague and tireless supporter”.

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, Ms Vokes was a trustee, posted its own tribute on social media platform, Facebook.

It said: “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.”

The leader of Manchester City Council paid tribute, on behalf of the city.

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to Kate and Archie's family and friends on their loss.

“Kate Vokes played a significant role in Manchester and was a great champion of many social and cultural causes in our city. She was known for her passion, commitment and energy.

"Kate was someone who believed passionately in the positive social impact that business could have, and exemplified it through her work as chair of the Oglesby Charitable Trust and her involvement with charities helping children and young people in the city.

"She was also known as committed champion of culture in Manchester and across the country, through her work with the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Bruntwood Prize.

"She will be very sadly missed."

An investigation has been opened into the cause of the avalanche. Credit: AP

The pair had been skiing with other family members before the 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, lasting around five hours, was deployed and included around 20 rescuers, two dog teams, a doctor and two helicopters.

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

Saint-Gervais Mayor Jean-Marc Peillex said the weather conditions were too unstable for such risky outings.

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

‘’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.”