FORMER Chipping Norton mayor Jan Meek said reaching Mount Everest base camp was a “sobering” experience because of the avalanche which killed 16 people.

The 69-year-old returned to England on Tuesday after the 14-day expedition, which she is using to prepare for a South Pole adventure next year.

On Friday, April 18, 16 people were killed in the worst single accident in the mountain’s history. Mrs Meek, who served on Chipping Norton Town Council in the 1980s and 1990s and was chairman of the town’s Chamber of Commerce, said: “One of the guides introduced us to his cousin, who he said very proudly was part of the elite group. We shook hands and he was so nice. He was one of those who died. On the way back we were at Lukla Airport and we could see the bodies coming down the mountain and on to the Tarmac. It dominated our last few days and really brought it home to us.”

Mrs Meek now lives in Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex.