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Tributes paid to Somerset woman killed in Scottish Highlands avalanche

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: February 16, 2013

Flight Lieutenant Fran Capps was among three killed in avalanche in Scottish Highlands

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Tributes have been paid to a Somerset woman named as one of the three people killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands.

Flight Lieutenant Fran Capps, 32, originally from Dulverton, Somerset, was killed in the accident in the Cairngorms. She was named today by the Ministry of Defence.

She is the second of the three victims to be named after police yesterday identified the first as RAF Squadron leader Rimon Than, 33, who was based at RAF Valley, North Wales.

The three were airlifted from the Chalamain Gap area to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary shortly after 12.30pm on Thursday but died of their injuries.

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Sqn Ldr Than and Flt Lt Capps were among a group of off-duty RAF personnel on an expedition at the time of the avalanche.

The third fatality is reported to be a male student who was part of a second group of climbers taking part in a winter mountaineering skills course.

Nine other people on the mountain at the time were unhurt.

Flt Lt Capps joined the Royal Air Force in 2001 as a logistics officer and worked on a variety of RAF stations. She had served on operational tours in Iraq, the Falkland Islands, Afghanistan and Qatar.

Officer Commanding Logistics Squadron, Squadron Leader Georgina Mews, said: "Fran was an exceptional person to know, having unbounded passion and energy and being loved by everyone on the Squadron. Her loss will be felt across the whole Logistics Community and wider.

Group Captain Dominic Toriati, the Station Commander at FAR Odiham, said: "Flight Lieutenant Fran Capps was an exceptionally dedicated Royal Air Force Officer and Logistician who was well known throughout the Service for her remarkable commitment, her joie de vivre and her utter professionalism.

"Fran achieved success wherever she served most recently receiving a Chief of Joint Operations Commendationfor her professional excellence, confidence and 'can-do' approach in Al Udeid. From Basrah to Kandahar to the Falkland Islands, Fran's boundless spirit and energy has shone through.

"A measure of the regard in which she was held was her selection to represent the Royal Air Force at the London Olympic medal ceremonies, where she brought her characteristic mixture of fun and hard work to bear to inspire her own team.

"Fran loved adventurous sport, taking part in activities including the Scotland Coast to Coast Challenge and she would have been in her element in the Cairngorms in winter.

"These characteristics were evident to all who met her at Royal Air Force Odiham. She was a popular and dynamic officer with huge potential for the future whose loss will be sorely felt.

"Flight Lieutenant Fran Capps will be missed by all and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friendsat this very sad time.

Wg Cdr Ian Richardson, Chairman of the RAF Mountaineering Association, said: "Flight Lieutenant Fran Capps was a bubbly and enthusiastic member of the committee and Association.

"Having gained high altitude experience on an expedition to the Indian Himalayas in 2006, she went on to share her experience and develop other mountaineers by successfully leading a group on an expedition that circumnavigated Mount Kenya and summited Pt Lenana.

"Her outstanding organization had transformed aspects of the committee's administration over the last year or so. Fran was always smiling, always enthusiastic, always welcoming and always willing to get involved and share her love of the hills with everyone in the Association and beyond. She will be sorely missed.

Air Commodore Russell La Forte, President of the RAF Mountaineering Association, said: "I and all members of the RAF Mountaineering Association are shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of two of our colleagues in an avalanche in the Cairngorm Mountains.

"Both Rimon and Fran were stalwart members of the Association. Talented mountaineers and tireless members of the Association's committee, they both contributed an enormous amount to RAF and Service mountaineering, having led groups on expeditions overseas.

"They will be greatly missed by the military mountaineering community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families at this tragic time."

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