Drennan family present £8k cheque to KBRT

November 16, 2015

The family and friends of a young Newtownabbey man who died on what was supposed to be a dream holiday in Ibiza have  presented the Newry based charity which worked tirelessly to help repatriate their son with a cheque for £8,000.

Twenty one year old Alan Drennan, passed away on the Spanish island on Sunday 19th July, less than 24 hours after arriving with his friends. Last week, the Drennan family and some of Alan’s many friends made the journey from Glengormley, County Antrim to the home of Colin Bell, founder of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Fund, to present the cheque in honour of their friend and brother.

It took two weeks for the repatriation charity to bring Alan home to his parents Verona and Alan, and brothers, Lee and Karl, and since then the Drennan family, supported by friends and their local community have committed themselves to fundraising for the organisation who provided such vital assistance during their heartbreaking ordeal.

The KBRT was set up by Colin and Eithne Bell in June 2013, following the death of their own son Kevin in a hit and run accident in New York.  Kevin had been a champion Irish dancer and a popular member of his local Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club, and in the aftermath of his death, friends and supporters in Newry and abroad rallied round to raise funds to repatriate his body.  Within days the fund grew to £150,000 and when Kevin’s American employers agreed to cover the cost of transporting his body home, the Bells decided to use the money raised to help other families who were visited with the same tragedy – and so, the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust was born.

The Bell family could not have envisaged just how much their assistance would be needed and, with every family that has availed of the Trust’s help since Kevin’s death, the profile of KBRT has increased and amazing feats of generosity have been reflected back into the Trust from families it has helped.

The Newry-based Trust reached a poignant milestone in October, having helped to bring home the remains of 100 people who have died in tragic circumstances abroad. They have since surpassed that figure, and last week alone the KBRT assisted 9 more families who lost loved ones across the globe from West London to western Australia.

Paying tribute to Colin Bell and the KBRT charity Alan’s father, Alan Snr said his family were indebted to them for returning Alan home and getting the family through the “biggest crisis of our lives.”

“Every day is a hard day, some better than others, some worse, “ he added.

“But this is a good day for us because we have been able to say thank you in person and that means a lot.”

Mr Drennan also handed over a signed football, a football shirt and wristbands for the charity to use in future fundraising drives.

Alan’s older brother Lee, 24, said it has helped his family to be able to raise the money for the trust in honour of his younger brother who he described as “a really big personality” whose death had left a “massive gap in our lives.”

Accepting the generous cheque donation, Colin Bell said he and his family understood what bereaved families of loved ones who died abroad were going through and said that to be able to step in and help them be reunited with a loved one they have lost under the most trying circumstances, was an honour.

Mr Bell said the money donated by the Drennans would “do a lot of work, will help a lot of people and I accept it gratefully on behalf of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.”

Friends of Alan began raising money for his family in the immediate aftermath of his death, hoping to help with funeral expenses.  Their efforts have raised enough money to build a permanent memorial to their friend and donate thousands to the repatriation fund.

They say they plan to continue to raise funds for the charity and urged everyone to consider the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust when fundraising as no-one ever knows how valuable the organisation is until they lose a loved one in such dire circumstances.