Devoted father and experienced hill walker Ian Bell was discovered dead on the slopes of Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis.
West Herts College lecturer Ian, of Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, failed to return from a walk on the Carn Mòr Dearg trail on Sunday, August 2.
The Lochaber Mountain Rescue team were alerted on the Monday after wife Julia had raised the alarm.
Following a day of searching 60 year old Ian’s body was found that evening in a gully in Coire Eòghainn, a treacherous area of the mountain that has claimed two further fatalities this week.
Julia said: “Ian’s death leaves a gaping hole in our lives.
“Ian loved the mountains, and the mountains have taken him.
“This has been a huge shock to us and to so many friends and family. We had hoped that the rescue team would find him alive.
“Ian was such a popular, deeply respected man. We are planning to celebrate his life on Friday at a service at West Herts Crematorium from 10am. We welcome everyone who knew Ian and who wants to come and pay their respects.’
Friends and family are travelling from all the corners of the country to be there including his steadfast Scottish relatives.
A family friend, Regina Whyatt, who pipes for the RAF Halton will lead the hearse with bagpipes.
The family, including Ian’s two sons Oscar, 23, and Louie, 21, are collecting for the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, as a way to thank them for recovering Ian’s body.
The rescue team are a group of volunteers who carry out searches to recover the missing, the injured and fatalities.
The family also want to thank the Co-operative Funeral Services who helped bring Ian’s body back from Scotland following a post mort em examination and have made sure that the celebration of Ian’s life on Friday will be tailor made for the family and friends.
“Ian grew up in Hemel and forged so many friendships locally,” said Julia. “He was deeply respected and admired by so many.”
His sister Moira, who grew up with Ian in the town, described her much loved brother as a: “wonderful, happy warm hearted brother and uncle to her children Robbie, Heather and Imogen. He was always dependable and trustworthy.”
He was a member of the Labour Party, campaigned to support the miners, and also added his weight to the anti-apartheid campaign, CND and other political struggles.
Ian was also a respected lecturer of media, and as well as his professional life teaching and inspiring students, he taught himself how to play the hurdy gurdy ,an unusual instrument as well as devoting his time to his family.
Julia said: “Ian loved performing with his hurdy gurdy and playing to friends at parties.
“He played at his 60th birthday celebrations in May and had been recently been invited to be part of the Proms family performance event in which he would have had the chance to play his hurdy gurdy with other musicians for an entertaining performance on stage at the Albert Hall.
“Ian has been robbed of his future years. This past ten days has been more awful than anyone can imagine. We can all take comfort that he died in a place he loved.
But we will miss him so much.”