Beds, Herts & Bucks

Tribute to Valerie Olton killed in Turkey jeep crash

Map of Fethiye in Turkey
Image caption Valerie Olton and Alison Conroy died after a day trip to the Saklikent Gorge in the Fethiye province

Colleagues of a former nursery worker from Hertfordshire killed in a reported jeep safari accident in Turkey have paid tribute to a "much-loved" teacher.

Valerie Olton, 53, from Stevenage and her friend, Alison Conroy, 54, from Welwyn Garden City, died in the accident near Fethiye on Sunday.

Ms Olton worked at St Christopher School's Montessori nursery in Letchworth for 18 years.

News of her death sent a "shockwave" through the school, a spokeswoman said.

Reports suggest the pair were travelling in an open-top 4x4 vehicle which crashed into a telegraph pole as the group returned from a day trip to the Saklikent Gorge - a canyon in the mountains about 27 miles (44km) from the town of Fethiye.

Ms Olton and Ms Conroy were named by Turkish authorities as having died.

Ms Olton's partner, Michael Horne, 53, was reportedly critically injured in the crash.

Charles Belham, 57, Ms Conroy's partner, was injured but has since been released from hospital, according to reports.

Three Turkish nationals, including the driver, were also injured.

'Lovely person'

St Christopher School head Richard Palmer said Ms Olton was a "much-loved and respected friend, teacher and colleague".

"The school and the children that were cared for by her were very lucky indeed to have known her," he said.

Friend and former colleague Sarah Brown said: "She was a very lovely person and very caring, very gentle and very loyal.

"We are devastated, we had worked with her for so many years.

"There is a shockwave throughout the whole school."

The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism said it "takes such accidents very seriously and is taking the necessary action to have it thoroughly investigated by the relevant authorities".

The Foreign Office said it was providing consular assistance.

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