Kevin Bell Trust raises £100k for repatriation

December 23, 2013

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, set up by the family and friends of the late GAA player who died in a hit and run accident in America in June this year, has raised over £100k to help other families who find themselves in the same tragic situation

The death of the much loved Newry man prompted a huge outpouring of grief throughout the entire community and sparked an unprecendented fundraising effort to bring his remains home to his grief stricken family. The subsequent Kevin Bell Repatriation Fund set up in his honour raised thousands and his family pledged to continue with the fund to help other families having to repatriate the remains of loved ones from abroad.

The 26-year-old dancing champion and talented Gaelic player was one of seven children, including a twin brother.

Speaking to UTV about the success of the repatriation fund, his father Colin recalled the tragic circumstances of Kevin’s death,

“Kevin had been out, it was a Saturday night and he returned home at about half three in the morning, he got out of a taxi and a white van came speeding and struck him, drove on and then he was hit by a second car but apparently he had been killed instantly,” explained Colin.

“We were fortunate or God was good in that we didn’t get a cold call from America. Kevin had been out to a friend’s, Sheamie Toner, and Sheamie rang his parents and then Vincent and Caroline came up and broke the news to us.”

Eithne added: “They came to the door, and I just said ‘What’s happened to my Kevin?’ – I said ‘is it bad’ and he said ‘Eithne, it’s the very worst’.

“It was like a sledgehammer.”

Kevin had been living and working in New York for ten months before the tragic incident.

Describing her hugely popular son, Kevin’s mother Eithne said: “If you met Kevin once, you remembered him, he just really had that personality, people loved him, he was full of craic.

“He would put himself up for a joke as well as putting everybody else up for one.”

In dealing with the loss of Kevin, who touched the hearts and lives of everyone who knew him, his family and friends and the community have come together to create a lasting legacy in his memory.

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust has already raised £120,000 to help other families bring their loved ones’ bodies home.

“Any time that I’ve heard that somebody else has been plunged into the same situation that we’re in, I just think ‘oh God, you are just starting on your journey’,” Eithne said.

“We’re six months down the line, please God we’ll learn how to cope with it, and it’s a comfort to think that we can help.”

Colin revealed they have offered help to as many as 10 local families who have lost a relative overseas.

He added: “We said at the time, Kevin wasn’t going to be the last, so the fund is there to help. We just want to help people.”