Family of five among Nepal jet victims

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The Independent Online
A MARRIED couple who were returning to Nepal for a second three-year missionary term were killed in yesterday's Kathmandu air crash. Their three young children died with them.

Andrew Wilkins, 38, and his wife Helen, 36, had been in Britain for the last year, training at the All Nations Christian College, a missionary training centre near Ware, Hertfordshire. Their children Hannah, 10, Naomi, 8, and Simeon, 6, were also in the aircraft. Mrs Wilkins, a social worker, was expecting another child in March.

The family had lived in Nepal for three years before returning to Britain last year. Mr Wilkins, an engineer, who worked for a London-based Christian development organisation, Interserve, was seconded to the United Mission to Nepal to work for the Butwal Power Company, advising on dams and hydro-electric projects.

At the church where Mrand Mrs Wilkins worshipped before they first went to Nepal - St John the Baptist in Werrington, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire - dozens of friends gathered last night to pray for them. The Rev Bill Craft said: 'We opened the church so that people could come and pray. We are all in a state of total shock.'

The family had spent the last year in the village of Stanstead Abbots in Hertfordshire. Irene Saward, the children's headmistress at St Andrew's primary school, described them as 'a lovely family'.

'Although they were only here for a year, they made friends so quickly. The parents couldn't do enough for people. They were regular visitors to the school and helped other parents by delivering and collecting their children. They were such a caring family.'

Reg Duhig, the father of Sharon Duhig, 28, a ski instructor who died in the crash, said she had planned to spend a month in the Annapurna region of Nepal before going on to the Everest base camp for a month.

Miss Duhig was travelling with Chris Budgett, 26, an outdoor activities instructor from Dorset. Mr Budgett, from New Zealand, who had been working in Lyme Regis, was planning a 21-day trek and a rafting trip.

Four of the dead passengers were climbers from Wales, Mick Hardwick, Dave Harries, Sue Hardwick and Alison Cope. Hamdi El-Menshawy and Sharon Henson, from Birmingham, were also among the dead. Another of the victims was Deborah Leon, a Tyneside-based trade unionist.

Two male couriers for the travel firm Encounter Overland, which specialises in adventure travel and is based in Old Brompton Road, west London, also died.

Last night Tony Jones, the firm's managing director, said the two men, one of whom had been to Nepal before, had been going to supervise adventure holidays, white-water rafting and mountain climbing. 'They were brave men and everyone at the company is devastated,'he said.

(Photograph omitted)