THE STORY OF MATT
Matt Francis Waldron Barnaville was born on February 1, 1991 in Surrey to mother Imelda Argent and father Kevin Barnaville. He grew up in Caterham with his sister Caoimhe and attended school at Reigate St Mary’s Prep and Choir School where he first discovered his love for music as a part of the choir. Matt then continued on to Reigate Grammar on a Music Scholarship Award. After Secondary School, he applied for a scholarship at Lichfield Cathedral and was one of only two people to be accepted into the esteemed program. He did a year there before attending The University of Wales at Cardiff, where he received his Bachelor of Music (BMus) 2.1.
Matt fell in love with skiing as a boy when he was introduced to the sport by family friends at the age of 7. His natural talent and abilities were evident from the moment he first put on skis and it was apparent from the start that Matt wasn’t going to live an ordinary life.
Immediately after completing University, Matt attained his first level of ski instructor and transitioned his lifelong passion for skiing into an actual career. He quickly took to the sports lifestyle, spending his years between his London home and chasing snow seasons around the world. Matt became the main coach and Ski School manager in Nozawa Osen, Japan and additionally skied and taught in Italy, France, Austria and Australia, all the while excelling through the ranks becoming a BASI Level 3 ski instructor. Matt finally landed in Verbier, Switzerland, where he spent the last few ski seasons teaching with European Snow Sports and spent his off seasons at home in London.
Matt always had an incredible passion for teaching young people how to ski, he even completed a month-long bike ride from Frankfurt to Istanbul raising money for Snow Camp — a charity that engages young people through skiing and snowboarding to provide life-skills training and mental health support, while enabling them to gain qualifications and employment in the snowsports industry and beyond. The bike ride produced the third highest contribution for Snowcamp that year. This is a charity Matt continued to support throughout his life, all the while continuing to teach children directly through his work.
Throughout all this time, Matt’s love and passion for music never changed. He continued to write music and would perform at venues around the world at night, while ski instructing during the day.
During lockdown of 2020, Matt had to ground himself and stay in one place, which in turn made him focus heavily on his music. Using only his guitar, voice, loop pedal and computer he wrote original songs, recorded covers and started putting together an album, which he never released. Matt returned to Verbier, Switzerland in December 2020 to work the ski season as an instructor, all the while he continued to write music in his cabin nestled in the snow. Every song from this time period Matt recorded himself in the various places he loved — his bedroom in the middle of London, his dad’s house by the sea in Dover and a cabin in the snow in Switzerland.
Matt lived a minimalist lifestyle, making absolutely everything out of nothing. What some would interpret as a carefree attitude was actually quite the opposite, he cared deeply about life and felt every minute should be worth spending and always strived to make it count. A true environmentalist and humanitarian, Matt was always passionate about his efforts in these areas, he felt the time we have on Earth is precious and wanted to help others see that.
Though Matt accomplished more in his short life than most do in an entire lifetime, what will be missed most about Matt is not his music or athletic abilities, but his love for others and the effect he had on them. In every part of Matt’s life — every new place he visited, every place he worked, he made lifelong friends from around the world, whom he continued to stay in touch with. Matt was the type of person who even if you hadn’t seen him in years, seeing him made it feel like not a day had passed. No matter where in the world he was or what he was doing, whether it was teaching his clients how to ski, playing music or just being around his friends and loved ones, his care and attention for whomever he was with always shined through.
If you knew Matt, there was never a dull moment around him — he was always making everyone smile. Matt’s good natured sense of humour and boyish charm constantly had everyone in fits of laughter — you felt lucky to be in his presence, he just made you feel that good. Anyone who has spent time with Matt can attest that he changed them for the better with his positive, vibrant personality and outlook on life, he truly cared about others’ happiness and was one of the most genuine people we've had the honour to know.
On January 18th, 2021, Matt died unexpectedly and suddenly in an avalanche while in Verbier, Switzerland. To say the world lost a true legend that day would be putting it mildly. To be honest, no words could actually do justice to who Matt Francis was and what it really meant to lose him, but maybe, by creating this page and sharing his music with you, it will give you a small glimpse of the extraordinary person he really was.
Matt never got to release his music the way he intended and would definitely not consider this album complete. We could never pretend that this would replace the incredible things Matt would have done were he still with us. We hope by creating this website and releasing an album with what he did leave us, the proceeds of which will go to charities he loved, that it carries on his ability to touch and affect others in the way he did while he was living.
Matt was an incredibly humble person, who would never ask for anything. All we ask of you in his name, is to spread his love by sharing his music, telling his story and helping us keep the most beautiful soul we’ve ever known alive.