Retired Wirral schoolteacher among dead

A retired teacher who was cycling the world to raise money for charity was killed in the Moroccan earthquake, leaving family “devastated”.

Liverpool-born David Barden, 71, died when his hotel in the Atlas Mountains collapsed on 8 September.

Mr Barden was in the region cycling to raise money for the Red Cross.

The 6.8-magnitude earthquake was the strongest to hit the country in more than 60 years and killed more than 2,900 people.

Daughter Sarah Barden, 41, said she received a text message from her father, who she described as her “best friend”, just 40 minutes before the quake hit.

Ms Barden, who is a consultant for the United Nations Food Agency based in Rome, said he had told her he was at the top of a mountain range in a place called Tizi N’test.

The morning after the quake she said she frantically called all the hotels in the area asking for news of him and a local hotelier Hamza Boumazough helped go in search for Mr Barden.

After authorities cleared sections of road, Hamza was able to make the journey to Cafe Sunset, where Mr Barden’s body was found buried under rubble.

“He would have died in his sleep”, Ms Barden said.

“We’re all just totally shocked. It’s difficult to comprehend.”

Ms Barden paid tribute to Hamza, who lost his home and business in the quake, saying: “Hamza and the community there have lost so much, I can’t thank them enough for helping me and my family.”

Mr Barden, who lived in Oxton, Wirral, was a prominent figure in the community and prior to his retirement worked as a teacher at West Kirby Residential School for Special Educational Needs.

He was also the membership secretary of The Oxton Society and an activist for the Labour Party.

Since his retirement, he had been cycling around the world raising funds for a range of charities.

“My dad was a very restless man and was always busy”, Ms Barden said.

“Going back to when he was a teacher, he would take the kids on school trips and cycle with them across Ireland and England.

“He ran the London Marathon several times and raised money for a number of charities.”

‘Best friend’

Ms Barden said her father “lit up rooms with his wit, humour and sharp intellect” and had a “brilliant adventurous spirit.”

“I am proud to be his daughter because he was my best friend”, she said.

Mr Barden blogged about his charity bike rides and in his last post from 7 September, the night before the quake, he wrote: “So far on this ride through over 20 countries I’ve enjoyed both setting myself some demanding challenges and getting away from normal routines, where the sequence of the day can be anticipated with few surprises.”

He added: “Lengthy, chance conversations hearing people’s life experiences completely outside of my own are always an enriching element of travel.”

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