Parents tell their of their "ray of sunshine" as they set up charity in Jemima's name

Family will say farewell to Colerne ski death girl Jemima today

Jemima Presson holiday

Jemima was a keen performer, she is dressed as Mary Poppins here

First published in Chippenham
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The family of Colerne schoolgirl Jemima Press, who died in a skiing accident in the Austrian Alps have spoken of how she ived every day as if it might be her last.

Mourners will gather for the funeral today of ten-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 Calder Hill School pupil , who was wearing a helmet, appeared to lose control and skied into the wooded off-piste area at the Mayrhofen resort near Tyrol, an Austrian police spokesman said.

Her brother Barnaby and father Tim, a partner at Wansboroughs in Devizes, 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 this afternoon at the Church of St John The Baptist, in Colerne.

Her dad and mum 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."

Mr Press 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 father and her brother Barnaby, a university student known as Barney, both witnessed the accident which happened at about 4.30pm.

It was reported that Jemima's mother had returned to the bottom of the mountain prior to the incident.

Recalling the incident, Mr Prees said how Barney spent 40 minutes trying to revive his sister, despite the fact she was "fairly clearly dead".

His actions drew praise from emergency services who arrived at the scene.

"They allowed him to carry on," Mr Press said, "because they did say they couldn't have done any better."

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.

Donations to the Jemima's Gift fund may be made by clicking here or by post to Jemima's Gift c/o D J Bewley Funeral Directors, 15 Bank Street, Melksham SN12 6LE.

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