“HE died doing what he loved and will be missed more than anything.”
The family of 23-year-old Joe Smith today paid tribute to a “special son and brother” killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands on Saturday.
Dad Tom, 49, mum Helena, 50, sister Emma, 16, and brothers Chris, 22, and Martin, 18, told how Joe’s passing has left “a huge hole in the heart of the family” after spending a ”fun” Christmas together.
Speaking at the family farm in Dutton, Helena said: “From the age of nine, Joe always loved climbing and moved to Scotland to follow his dream of living in the mountains.
“He moved two years ago so he could be climbing all the time.
“He was an absolute star and always part of the community. He had made a really good life for himself up there and we were planning to go on holiday to see him next month.”
Joe grew up on the farm and went to St Augustine’s Primary School before heading off to Myerscough College. He was part of Ribchester Scouts, the Bowland fell running club as well as Longridge Young Farmers.
Joe also did some work taking people up and down Scotland’s Ben Nevis. Dad Tom said: “We’re just so proud of him. He was really familiar with the mountains with being part of Glencoe Mountain Rescue. He embraced life and threw himself into everything he did.”
Tom also says Joe had been thinking about moving to Germany with his German partner Kristin Speidel to do some more climbing.
Helena said: “He was so family orientated and we had a lovely Christmas and New Year with him. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Glencoe Mountain Rescue and the police for everything they have done, I just can’t find the words to express our loss.”
Andy Nelson, leader of Glencoe Mountain Rescue, said: “Joe was lovely bloke and well liked by everyone on the team. He was bitten by the climbing bug at a very young age climbing the hills of Lancashire.
“He fell in love with this area after climbing here and made it his home around two years ago. Joe was a great climber - very keen and enthusiastic - and became a member of the (mountain rescue) team around 18 months ago.
“He was so well liked. Just last week he was part of a rescue mission on the mountain, so it was particularly difficult for the team to be bringing his body down the mountain in this way. He will be really missed by all of us. It is a huge loss.”
Joe’s climbing partner, Simon Davidson, 34, from the Edinburgh area, also died in the accident.