by Chris Hunter
The aunt of a Kent Scout killed in an
avalanche on a mountainside in Scotland has led tributes to
her "inspirational" nephew.
Explorer Scout and former Maidstone
Girls Grammar sixth-former, Stephen Young, 18, from Borough
Green, was on an organised trip to the Scottish
Highlands with Kent-based Invicta Mountaineering Club, when
Aunt Sue Booth said Stephen - also a
leader with Ightham Scouts - was loved and idolised by friends
and family alike, and hundreds of messages of sympathy
had been received.
An experienced mountaineer and
qualified mountain guide, he had been looking forward
to the "ice climbing" trip for months, said his
Mrs Booth said the
all-adult group had been walking along a
ridge on the 3,701ft mountain Creag Meagaidh, and had
been on a cornice - an overhanging edge of snow - when Stephen
The mountain, about 40km
east of Fort William and north-west of Loch Laggan, is renowned for
its cliffs and crags and is a popular ice climbing destination.
Mrs Booth said: "When
the opportunity to go ice climbing came up he jumped at the
chance - he was looking forward to the trip. They arrived in the
Cairngorms on Saturday and spent Sunday playing in the snow."
She said the 24-strong group on
Monday's climb were all experienced mountaineers and had believed
the snow covered section of the ridge was safe.
"There were footprints in the snow, so
people had been there already. I don't know whether that had
weakened it. I don't know whether he fell or if it broke away, but
he went over the edge. That caused the avalanche."
His mother Judy
Young, 42, and uncle Andy Young, 44 - an RAF officer and
former mountain rescue member - were also on the
mountain, in a following group.
Some of the climbers -
including Mr Young - went down to search
for Stephen and discovered his body lying on top of the
RAF rescue teams were called and he
was airlifted to hospital in Fort William but pronounced dead
Mrs Booth said the family were still
struggling to come to terms with the loss of Stephen at such a
"He was generous and kind-hearted; he
lit up a room. He had the ability to get on with anyone, whether
they were younger or older. He was very confident and
was relaxed about talking to anyone.
"He just wanted to go and do as much
as he could and gain as much experience in life as he could."
Well-known and respected within
Kent Scouts, Stephen had recently been selected to sit on
the organisation's county executive committee as a youth
In 2007, he and fellow scouts spent every night of the year sleeping in a tent in his back garden to raise money for children's hospice Demelza House.
Mrs Booth added: "He was extremely
well thought of. Whatever he tried his hand at he gave it his
"The determination to spend that year
in a tent, when he was 16, was amazing. The challenge was only to
do 100 nights each - Stephen said 'I can do it all.' If he had
his mind set on something he would do it.
"He had four cousins - I have two boys
and my brother has two - and they all idolise him. He was the bees
knees to them.
"He collected the children from school
on Wednesday; he walked down the road holding their hands, chatting
away. He helped the eldest one with his spelling saying: If
you get them right we'll get some sweets.' That's unusual
for a young man - he was so sensitive.
"I'm extremely proud he was my nephew
I couldn't have asked for a better one. For him to go so young when
he had so much more to do and so much more to give; it's just
In a statement The Scout Association said it was "deeply saddened to confirm the death of Stephen Young, a trustee of Kent Scout County.
"Stephen was part of an experienced,
all adult group who were in Cairngorms as part of their annual trip
to the region to expand their winter hill walking skills.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with
Stephen's family and friends at this time. We are working with the
authorities to support those adults involved in this tragic