July 4, 1996 in Nation/World

Adventurous Spirit Led Briton To Himalayas Trip To Kashmir Was Paul Wells’ Lifetime Ambition

Simon Donahue Lancashire Evening Telegraph
 

A healthy taste for adventure lured photography student Paul Wells from the green, subdued slopes of his native Lancashire to the beautiful but deadly mountains of the Himalayas.

His younger days in the northwest England industrial town of Blackburn were spent poring over images of British mountaineering legend Chris Bonnington, and it was not long before he too embarked on a string of outdoor activities.

The eldest son of keen hikers Bob and Dianne, Paul would spend hours with them, brother Stuart and sister Sarah on the rugged terrain of Britain’s Cumbrian Lake District.

Then, in his teens and early 20s, he embarked on his own adventures: rock climbing, sailing, walking, even traversing the infamous Spanish El Charo mountain range.

Small wonder then that he and girlfriend Cath Moseley would shun British Foreign Office advice to steer clear of the volatile Kashmir valley - yet tell their parents they had taken all the precautions.

“Basically he was an outdoor type - and a bit headstrong,” said his dad Bob Wells. “If he had any idea in his head he just went for it. We were convinced he would be safe. We had no reason to think anything else.”

The Kashmir region held a particular interest and going to the Himalayas was the realization of a lifetime ambition fueled by hundreds of books and photographs.

By a cruel irony, the carefully planned trip was financed by a legacy from his grandfather Seymour Frost, the man who influenced his love of taking pictures.

Wells was 24, one year into his studies in photography at the South Nottinghamshire College, around 100 miles from his parents’ bungalow home, when he set out to capture images for his portfolio.

Yet sadly, it was while he was attempting to reach his own particular goal - the remote, unspoiled village of Ladakh, high up in the hills over the Kashmir valley - that he was captured.

The holiday was also to serve the dual purpose as one last time together before Moseley left her job as a social worker in Nottingham to study in Colchester.

Film containing many of Wells’ images was subsequently brought back to England by Moseley. The photographs have been displayed both in Nottingham and Blackburn.

The ordeal has taken its toll on Wells’ parents, but throughout they have refused to give up hope.

Dianne Wells, 51, was initially unaware her son had been kidnapped because she was recovering in the hospital from an operation.

The stress has left its mark on Bob Wells, 50, but time and time again he has refused to believe the worst.

Both are confident that everything possible has been done by the authorities and sure of one thing - Paul has not been forgotten in his hometown.

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