Warning: This article is about suicide and may be distressing for some readers.

Champion snowboarder Ellie Soutter, who took her own life at 18, will be having her funeral this week, but her family is already keeping her memory alive online.

Soutter's loved ones, including her father Tony Soutter, 53, and mother Lorraine Denman, created a GoFundMe page under her name to help raise money "for young winter athletes who need financial assistance to achieve their potential and dreams."

The family highlighted Soutter's accomplishments saying, "Ellie Soutter was one of the most progressive Junior Female Snowboard Athletes of Great Britain."

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They then explained she often missed out on opportunities due to the family's lack of wealth.

"As a junior athlete coming from a family without substantial wealth, Ellie often had to miss out on competing and training through lack of funds," the family said.

"She felt and understood the constant pressure to obtain the necessary funds for her training and events. A full season of required training to maintain this level of competition was in excess of £30,000 annually. At this time, as a Junior GB athlete, there is minimal or no funding for travel or accommodation and athletes have to pay a subscription for coaching."

"We have decided to form The Ellie Soutter Foundation in her memory to help and assist other young winter athletes in similar circumstances," the post continues.

So far the page has raised €7,945 (NZ$4,127) with a goal of getting €100,000 (NZ$192,467) worth of donations.

On Sunday, her father shared a Facebook post, with a link to the GoFundMe page.

Since the Tragic death of My beautifull daughter Ellie Soutter we have decided to set up in her memory, The Ellie...

Posted by Tony Soutter on Sunday, 29 July 2018

Snowboard star mourned

Champion snowboarder Ellie Soutter took her own life in remote woodland near her home in the French Alps on her 18th birthday, MailOnline revealed.

Police tracker dogs found her body at 11.15pm on Wednesday in Les Gets and her family plan to scatter her ashes on the teenager's favourite mountain near the ski resort.

Ellie was considered one of British snowboarding's future stars who had high hopes of competing for Team GB in the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022.

Her uncle Jeremy Soutter told MailOnline there were "no signs at all" that his "chirpy" niece would consider killing herself.

But hinting at the pressure she put on herself he said: "She wanted to be good at everything. She expected a lot of herself. There's certainly a lot of pressure from competing. The travelling is immense too. She had a very busy training schedule and generally all of that takes its toll."

British Olympians including Amy Williams led the tributes today and the skeleton gold medallist said: "Such sad tragic news to wake up to. Thoughts and prayers go to Ellie Soutter's family."

Family and friends had been due to attend a joint party to celebrate her birthday and her "devastated" father Tony's, which falls on Monday (UK time).

Poignantly, the same people will gather at the same venue in Les Gets to grieve and toast Ellie.

Her uncle Jeremy said: "Everything was already in place for tonight. Ellie had been looking forward to it. At least a dozen people were coming from the UK for it."

Miss Soutter's mother Lorraine Denman is a body builder and former Miss UK who lives in Hove, East Sussex. It is not known if she is in France today.

Her close family is desperately seeking answers about why she wanted to kill herself.

Jeremy, CEO at Carne Global Fund Managers, said: "Ellie grew up with her father Tony. They were incredibly close. When Tony and his wife divorced, Tony was adamant he would bring Ellie up. He has quite extraordinary parenting skills.

She was still close to her mother but it was Tony who was her best friend. He's a broken man. He keeps going through everything. But there were just no signs at all.

"She was as bright as a button the day before. Happy, excited about life. This is the thing that's killing her father.

"And I saw her at a wedding in the UK recently and she was as chirpy as ever. You could never have anticipated this."

Tony, who heads the French office of Midas Kitchens, last saw Ellie at 8am on Wednesday when he went to say goodbye before going to work.

He went into her bedroom to wish her happy birthday but she was fast asleep. He texted her later that morning but there was no response. When he returned home for lunch, Ellie was not there.

Jeremy said: "He didn't think there was anything untoward that she wasn't there for lunch.

"But by 6pm he still hadn't been able to get her on her mobile and it was her birthday. He also noted that her purse was at home. He called the police."

Here’s just a close up pic of me tryna look candid | @susiephotos

A post shared by Ellie (@elliesoutter) on

Sniffer dogs were deployed in the search. They picked up her scent at the house and police then began searching in nearby woodland.

Jeremy said: "It was 11.15pm when they found her. There was no note, nothing. She was somewhere you can hardly access. She must have just kept walking and walking. Police struggled to get there."

He said Tony will scatter Ellie's ashes on one of her favourite mountains in Les Gets.

Ellie moved to Les Gets in 2009. She attended the local primary school, followed by an international school and then the local college.

By 2015, her sporting commitments meant she was home schooled for the final two years of her education.

Soutter was a bronze medallist in snowboard cross at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival. Photo / via Instagram
Soutter was a bronze medallist in snowboard cross at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival. Photo / via Instagram

Jeremy said: "She wasn't just sporty. She was very bright too. She got top academic results which is really something considering all the sport she was doing.

"But Tony never pressured her. This was not some parent's dream. This was coming from her. She loved the sport and Tony supported her in any way he could. Financially, emotionally.

"The outpouring of affection and grief has been overwhelming. There's no way she understood what she meant to so many people.

"There are so many ifs and buts. Too many to contemplate. Until Wednesday we were just a family like any other, believing something like this happens to other people not us."

School friends yesterday expressed their shock at her death.

Ellie Soutter (L) and Maisie Hill (R) of England compete in snowboardcross within the European Youth Olympics Winter Festival 2017. Photo / Getty Images
Ellie Soutter (L) and Maisie Hill (R) of England compete in snowboardcross within the European Youth Olympics Winter Festival 2017. Photo / Getty Images

Ellie Soutter's ex-boyfriend Oscar Mandin, 21, said snowboarding was her "happy place".

Freeride World Qualifier Oscar, who remained friends after she ended the relationship last year, said she struggled with "bouts of sadness" but would always seek help from family or friends.

He said: "I think sport was the thing that gave her smiles. That was her happy place. I don't think this has to do with her snowboarding.

"She would call me even after we were no longer together and ask for help in the form of talking about things. I wouldn't use the word depressed. She was just sad sometimes. And she wanted to speak to someone who knew her. So we'd meet for a coffee and talk. But this time she didn't call me. She didn't call anyone.

"She had an unstable period but she'd got through that. So I was so shocked when I heard what happened.

"Tony had called me at about 4pm asking me if there was anywhere she might go.

"After a few hours we were getting concerned. I got a call at 1am from a friend to tell me that the police had found her.

"I'm close to her dad still. We are good friends. He was an incredible father. Devoted everything to her. He's an extraordinary man.

"When Ellie and I were dating we always said we'd look out for each other's families if anything happened to either of us. I'll do that."

Oscar described Ellie as "very determined".

He said: "She was a really fantastic person. She was very determined in everything she did."

They began dating in May 2015. In September they visited the UK and then Paris together.

Soutter, 18, died on her birthday in the UK after coming to her home nation from France where she lived and trained. Photo / Supplied
Soutter, 18, died on her birthday in the UK after coming to her home nation from France where she lived and trained. Photo / Supplied

They also travelled to New Zealand together competing. Their relationship lasted for almost two years.

One 18-year-old girl wept as she said: "No one can understand why she would do this. She seemed so happy. It's such a big shock. She had plenty of friends, she was going really far with her sport, she had so much."

Olly Edwards, a family friend, said: "My wife Jo and I have know Ellie since she was little. She was a cheeky, happy and smiley child with a lot of heart.

"She achieved a lot in her short life and her father is very proud of her. Tony is one of the very best fathers on this planet and he has been overwhelmed by all the love and support. She will be sorely missed."

Speaking from the hotel he owns in Les Gets, Peter Rhodes, a close friend of Ellie's father's, said: "I've know on Ellie since she moved here eight years ago. She was so full of life. Ellie was a great kid. We just don't know why it happened.

"She was completely integrated into life here. She was bilingual and had as many French friends as British ones.

"Tony's life revolved around her. Devastated is too weak a word to describe him."

British ski cross champion Emily Sarsfield tweeted: "You really were an amazing girl! Such a fun teammate, made me smile everyday, cracking all the jokes and enjoying life to it's fullest! I'm going to miss you and your amazing energy."

Ellie's father said on Facebook last night he had lost his "soul mate" and British Ski and Snowboard, the UK's governing body, paid tribute to the young star and urged people to get "support" from to the suicide prevention charity Samaritans.

Mr Soutter said: "This cruel world took my soul mate and 'Bessie' from me yesterday on her 18th birthday I was so proud of the beautiful young woman she had turned into. Ellie I will miss you more than you could have ever imagined. Rest in peace you little Champion."

Tributes poured in from friends and fellow snowboarders including her recent boyfriend Oscar Mandin, who posted a photo of them together next to Big Ben with the message "Goodbye Ellie" and a red heart.

Her career looked in jeopardy at the start of 2018 when she had to pull out of training and competing due to "lack of funds" - but she had fought back and was set to compete for Team GB in the junior world championships in New Zealand next month.

Friend and fellow snowboarder Corah Philips wrote on Instagram: 'It was never long enough with you Ellie. A constant see you soon, will now last forever.

"Ellie you didn't carry an inch of b******, you laughed about the crudest s***, and made the dullest of nights hilarious and f*** mate did you have a stomach for VBs.

"The most alive person I knew, you embraced everyday with the most genuine notion.

"Ellie was the only person I have taken photos of that shocked me, there was something in her eyes, a spark, a knowledge, a fire ... the most genuine legend. Ellie I miss you, forever."

In 2017 the teenager had an incredible year as a youth Olympian, claiming Team GB's only medal, a bronze, at the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival in Turkey.

Miss Soutter was chasing her dream of competing in the Team GB squad in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The talented teenager who was a specialist in the Freeride and Boardercross disciplines was due to return to the slopes for Team GB in New Zealand in August.

At the time of her death Ellie, a youth Olympian, was coached by French Olympic snowboarding sensation Deborah Anthonioz.

Anthonioz won a silver medal in women's snowboard cross at the 2010 Winter Olympics before retiring from competitive snowboarding in 2014.

Dedicated to her sport Ellie spent winters on the Junior Freeride Tour and the SBX Europa Cup circuit and travelled to New Zealand in the summer - to continue training.

Miss Soutter, also an ambassador for Les Gets Ski Station in the French Alps, lived in Les Gets in the French Alps where she first learnt to snowboard at the age of ten.

Ellie was also a lover of the outdoors - often sharing images of herself biking, hiking and climbing.

Ellie was a star in two specialisms.

Freeriding takes place "off piste" on big mountains allowing riders to show off their skills.

While boardercross saw Ellie "competing against three other girls down a course with different features such as berms and jumps".

After her win in Turkey, aged just 16, Ellie told British Ski and Snowboard (BSS): "I don't think it's quite sunk in yet. I'm a little bit emotional. I cried as I crossed the line."

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757​

- additional reporting Daily Mail