UK & World News

  • 22 February 2013, 14:12

Jemima Prees: Tribute To Ski Tragedy Schoolgirl

The family of a British schoolgirl who died in a skiing accident in the Austrian Alps has spoken of how she "lived every day as if it might be her last".

Mourners will gather today for the funeral of 10-year-old Jemima Prees, who was killed when she hit a tree at high speed on February 10 while on a half-term holiday with her family.

The schoolgirl, who was wearing a helmet, appeared to lose control and skied into a wooded off-piste area at the Mayrhofen resort near Tyrol, an Austrian police spokesman said.

Her brother and father rushed to her side to give first aid before she was airlifted to hospital in Innsbruck, but she died the following day.

Her funeral will be held at the Church of St John The Baptist, in Colerne, near Chippenham, Wiltshire.

Speaking on the eve of the service, Jemima's parents, Tim and Karen, told of the mature attitude to life which belied the girl's tender years.

Mrs Prees said: "She was lovely, she was gorgeous, she was very active. She loved life. She lived every day as if it might be her last.

"Sometimes she used to say, 'Today might be the last day, we must all tell each other that we love each other because we may not come back this evening'.

"She was very wise, wise beyond her years. She had things sewn up that some people never seem to grasp."

Jemima's father described her as "a real ray of sunshine".

"She just had the knack of making everybody feel as if they were really important to her," he said.

"And she had a smile for everybody. And I think she genuinely cared about other people, it wasn't just a surface smile."

Police in Mayrhofen - an hour away from Innsbruck and popular with British skiers - said the Prees family were on the last run of the day when Jemima careered into woodland and was knocked unconscious.

Her brother Barnaby spent 40 minutes trying to revive his sister.

Jemima, who went to Calder House School, near Colerne, also has two sisters, Annabel and Olivia, who were not on the family holiday.

The schoolgirl's family have set up a charity in Jemima's memory, named Jemima's Gift, intended to help children make the most of opportunities in the arts, sport and education.

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