Australian tragedies spark huge influx of donations to Newry repatriation charity

November 30, 2015

Newry based charity, the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust has received a huge influx of donations in the wake of the recent tragedies in Australia which have claimed the lives of ten young Irish people over the last three weeks, five of them in Perth, Western Australia.

The most recent of those tragedies occurred last Wednesday when 24 year old Joe McDermott from Omagh and 27 year old Gerry Bradley from Derry were killed in a building site accident in Perth. The two friends were working on the site of an 11-storey apartment block when a concrete slab fell on them.

Their deaths came just days after 28 year old Craigavon man Alan Haughey was killed in a car crash in Kalgoorlie, Perth.

A young Dublin woman who had contracted a virus while in Perth also died after her life support machine was turned off and a County Meath man was also pronounced dead after his family gave permission for his life support to be turned off after he suffered severe head injuries in a fall from scaffolding while working in Perth.

Colin Bell, who runs the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, has been assisting each of the families with the repatriation of their loved ones back to Ireland.

Mr Bell confirmed last week that he had been contacted by the Claddagh Association to provide assistance in bringing home the remains of the two young Irish men killed in the Perth building site accident.

He said their deaths had brought the number of families the charity had helped since its inception in 2013 to more than 130.

“This week alone we are facing helping out with the repatriation of 10 young people,” he added.

Colin, who helped to set up the KBRT after his son Kevin was killed in a hit and run accident in New York in 2013 says he knows what it is like to receive the desperate news of the loss of a loved one overseas.

“It’s unimaginable,” he said.

“So now we do everything we can to help other families facing this awful situation. It helps them and it helps us deal with the loss of Kevin.”

“We just never imagined there would be so many people in need of help,” admitted Mr Bell.

Repatriating bodies can be a lengthy and distressing process and can cost several thousand pounds.  The repatriation trust relies solely on donations and, as a result of the most recent tragedies in Australia, it has been inundated with people seeking to donate to the KBRT.  In response to the enquiries the charity has re-posted details of its sterling and euro donation accounts on its Facebook page and expressed its appreciation to everyone who has donated to keep the vital service going.

For further details of how you can donate directly to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, visit the charity’s Facebook page.