Prestigious President’s Award conferred on bereaved parents

February 9, 2015

The parents of a young Newry man who was tragically killed in New York almost two years ago have been honoured for their work in helping other bereaved families.

Collie and Eithne Bell were presented with a GAA President’s Award at a glittering ceremony in Croke Park on Friday evening, in recognition of their humanitarian work through the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust (KBRT).

The charity was set up following the tragic death of their 26-year-old son Kevin who died in a hit-and-run collision in the Bronx while making his way home from a night out in June 2013.  Stunned by the tragedy, family and friends rallied round and within days, more than £40,000 was raised to repatriate his remains.  As donations continued to pour in, the fund grew and it was from these fundraising efforts that the KBRT was born.  In the 19 months since its inception, the Trust has financially assisted more than 60 other bereaved families to bring their loved ones home, including two from Perth and one from Thailand just this week.

Accepting the award from President of the GAA, Liam O’Neill, Collie and Eithne paid tribute to the solace and support they received from their fellow Gaels, which they described as being “wrapped in the arms of the GAA”, and extended their grateful appreciation to Damian Ruddy, Brendan Jackson and all the trustees for their continued hard work and fundraising efforts.

Also in Croke Park to receive the coveted President’s Award was Silverbridge Harps clubman, Michael Mallie.

Michael was presented with the award in recognition of his lifelong contribution to the GAA through his work at third level education in Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) and with his club.  Joined by his extended family and many of his fellow clubmates for the occasion, Michael expressed his deep gratitude at being chosen for the award, adding that he accepted it on behalf of the many others who have devoted years of voluntary work to the organization, particularly those within his own club.

Warrenpoint man, Feargal McCormack, was the third local recipient of a President’s Award, presented in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the GAA in Co. Down and with his club, St. Peter’s.

SDLP MLA, Dominic Bradley, offered his congratulations to the award recipients: “All of them have made tremendous unstinting contributions to their own clubs and communities, schools and colleges over many years and have spread their efforts beyond their own localities to benefit others.  The spirit they have displayed in their work for the GAA is the cement which makes the Association the tower of strength which it is to every community throughout the length and breadth of Ireland,” he said.