Fourth Highlands avalanche victim named as Harrogate doctor

The fourth victim of the an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands on Saturday has been named a doctor from Harrogate District Hospital. Dr Rachel Majumdar, 29, was originally from Merseyside, and was most recently living in Leeds.

Her partner, Tom Chesters, 28, a Phd student at Hull University, also died alongside another man and woman in the tragedy at Glencoe on Saturday. Another woman is critically ill in hospital, while a third man jumped clear.

The avalanche struck at about 2pm on Saturday as the six friends made their descent on Bidean Nam Bian in Glencoe.

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PhD students Christopher Bell, 24, and 25-year-old junior doctor Una Finnegan were also swept to their deaths as they made their way down the mountain.

Police identified the three other victims yesterday but Dr Majumdar’s name was withheld until today to allow her family members to inform other relatives.

Friends have said the group were experienced climbers who loved the mountains and were well-equipped for the trek.

Friends of the group said Mr Chesters and Dr Majumdar had been dating for several years and had “such a good future together”.

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Sam Morris, 35, said the only consolation in the tragedy was that the couple died side-by-side doing something they both loved.

Mr Morris, a close friend of Mr Chesters and Mr Bell, worked with both men when they were mountain bike tour guides in the Alps.

He said Mr Chesters and Dr Majumdar met at university in Leeds and he came to know her through Mr Chesters.

“They were in love since they met in their first year of university,” he said.

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“They were just so soft and sweet with each other - two people so at ease together. They were having fun making plans.

“They had dreams of doing voluntary work oversees together.

“Some of the comfort we have drawn is that these guys had been together to the end. At least they were doing what they liked doing.

Mr Morris said he met Dr Majumdar several times when she visited Mr Chesters in France.

He added: “All four of them were people with a bright future and all of them were committed to making a difference. It’s such a loss.”

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Dr Rebecca Leigh, a Consultant doctor who worked with Dr Majumdar at Harrogate District Hospital, said:

“Rachel was a gifted and dedicated doctor, who was in the middle of her training. A very promising medical career has been cut tragically short. She was one of the finest doctors I have ever worked with.

All the staff and patients who knew Rachel will remember her for her caring nature, with a smile and a friendly word for everyone. The thoughts of everyone at the Hospital are with her family and friends at this very difficult time and we are offering every support we can to our staff.”

Mr Bell, from Blackburn in Lancashire, was studying for a PhD in ocean mapping in Oban.

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His parents were reported to be too upset to comment from their home in Osbaldeston, near Blackburn, but a tribute was issued on the Facebook page of his father’s decking business, Evabel.

The statement read: “We are so sad to let everyone know that Simon & Alison’s son Chris was one of the people who were killed in the avalanche in Glencoe.

“Chris was a wonderful son, friend and human being. Our thoughts and prayers are with Simon, Alison & (brother) Ed at this awful time.”

Mr Chesters had been living in Leeds and working towards his PhD qualification at Hull University, while Ms Finnegan, originally from Coleraine in Co Londonderry, was a qualified doctor who lived in Edinburgh.

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The woman in hospital is being cared for at Glasgow’s Southern General after suffering severe head injuries in the incident.

One man survived by leaping from the collapsing sheet of snow and hammering an ice axe into firmer ground.

The young woman who was hurt remains in a critical condition in Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, where she was flown after initially being treated at Belford hospital in Fort William.

She suffered severe head injuries in the avalanche, which struck at about 2pm on Saturday as the woman and five friends made their descent on Bidean Nam Bian in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands.

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As news of the accident broke on Saturday, a major search operation ensued involving both Glencoe and Lochaber mountain rescue teams, and specialist police dogs.

The male survivor of the group has expressed his “sadness and deep regret”.

“All in the group loved the mountains and are experienced winter walkers,” he said in a statement.

“My sincere thanks goes to the members of the public, mountain rescue teams and other emergency services who assisted.”

Andy Nelson, deputy head of Glencoe mountain rescue team, said the avalanche would have unfolded in “a split second”.