THE three friends killed in a road tragedy on their way home from a skiing trip were part of the a large group who loved exploring the outdoors together.
And it can be revealed that the widow of one of those killed on the M20 early last Saturday had lost her first husband in a mountaineering tragedy.
Jo Martin’s husband, Roger, died along with friends Al Watson and Kim Sumner when the Ford Focus estate car they were in careered off the M20 in Kent near its junction with the M25 at 4.50am last Saturday.
They were part of a group of 10 in two cars who had spent the half-term week skiing at Portes du Soleil in the French Alps.
No other vehicle was involved and the two cars were not in convoy at the time of the tragedy.
Mr Martin’s 22-year-old daughter, Holly, was badly hurt in the crash, along with Mr Watson’s 16-year-old daughter, Annie, who is studying A levels at Greenhead College.
Mrs Martin’s first husband, Andy Bennett, was killed while climbing Mont Blanc in the French Alps in August, 1990.
He was a teacher at Holmfirth High School.
He was part of the group of friends who have remained close for many years and several of them are teachers.
Mrs Martin, of Skelmanthorpe, is headteacher at Thurstonland First School and Mr Martin was head of design and technology at Westborough High School in Dewsbury.
Mr Watson was an outdoor pursuits instructor at Thomas Danby College in Leeds and his wife, Jan Watson-Foulds, is head of design and technology at Salendine Nook High School.
The third victim killed in the crash, 51-year-old Kim Sumner, was the special educational needs co-ordinator at Brooksbank School in Elland. He had been there for six years after working with special needs pupils at Colne Valley High.
Annie Watson-Foulds has had surgery for serious pelvis injuries and is in St George’s Hospital in London. She also suffered neck injuries and severe cuts to her legs.
Holly suffered neck and ankle injuries and is recovering at home.
Mrs Martin said: “Roger lived life to the full and made the most of every minute.
“He had been climbing since he was 16 and had been a caver for many years.
“All the friends have known one another for so many years. We are more like one great big family, going on activity holidays together and spending new years together in Wales, Scotland, the Dales and the Lake District.’’
The couple – who between them have four children in their 20s – had cycled all over the world together, including Vietnam and Mongolia.
They had also trekked along The Great Wall Of China.
They had cycled from Land’s End to John o’ Groats and last year cycled from Penrith up to Cape Wrath at the northern tip of Scotland.
Mr Martin was a member of Shepley Badminton Club, playing in the Huddersfield and Barnsley leagues.
He was also a member of the Mynydd Climbing Club based at New Mills in Derbyshire, where he had lived for many years.
Mr Watson lived in Marsh and was in the RAF Regiment for six years before becoming an instructor for the educational charity Outward Bound, which gives youngsters adventurous experiences to help raise their self-esteem, realise their full potential and achieve more than they thought possible.
Mr Watson was a member of Holmfirth Harriers, where he did fell running and orienteering, and was also a member of the Climbers’ Club of Great Britain.
Close friends Mark and Wendy Gray, of Edgerton, said: “Al was fun-loving, always smiling, forever active and always saw the best in the world.
“He was much loved by so many friends and all his friends and neighbours have rallied round.’’
He had a long-standing project to renovate a cottage in Marsden, which he has been doing for the last eight years.
Wendy, a teacher at Kirkheaton Primary School, said: “They were all lovely people and great friends.’’
Mark, an antiques dealer and climber who is part of the group of friends, said: “There is a very strong bond between all the friends.
“It is a very close friendship that you get with people who do outdoor activities such as mountaineering, when you depend so much on one another.’’