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Unprecedented response to internet fund in memory of Niall Quinn

February 1, 2016

A GoFundMe page set up in honour of tragic Silverbridge man Niall Quinn, who was killed in a boating accident in Australia nine days ago, has received an unprecedented response from across the globe. The fund, in aid of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust which assisted the repatriation of Niall’s body, amassed more than AUS$50,000 in donations in its first 15 hours of going live and, as of yesterday, (Sunday) the total had exceeded AUS $75,000.

The huge raft of donations, many of which had poignant messages and memories of Niall attached, is testament to his popularity and a measure of how he will be sorely missed by his family and many friends, both in Ireland and Australia.

The 27-year-old carpenter died after falling from a houseboat, which he had hired with a group of friends for the weekend. Tragedy struck when Niall slipped and fell from the top deck of the boat, hitting his head before entering the water.

Despite frantic efforts from his friends, who dived into the water in a bid to save him, his body was recovered by police divers some hours later.

His death has numbed the local community of Silverbridge where Niall and his family are very well-known and respected and plunged his huge circle of friends in Australia and beyond into unimaginable grief.

The GoFundMe page was set up last Thursday by the young carpenter’s boss at Keady Formwork in Melbourne, where Niall was the longest serving member of staff.   Speaking to The Examiner as donations continued to pour in, Trevor Meegan admitted he was overwhelmed by the generosity of those who have contributed.  He said the response was not only testament to the esteem in which Niall was held but to the importance of the Kevin Bell Trust who he said “have been outstanding in their organisation from the moment they were notified of Niall’s death.”

Describing Niall as “a good friend”, his employer revealed that he had recently began the process of sponsoring the “extremely talented carpenter.”

“We had actually lodged Niall’s sponsorship a few weeks ago,” he said.

“We wanted Niall around us as he was a great character and a pleasure to be with.  He was highly thought of by all our employees and by everyone he came into contact with.

“Our company is very close knit and he was exceptionally good friends with three or four of the lads here.  If Niall was missing on a Monday morning, you could be guaranteed the rest would be in close pursuit!”

Mr Meegan said the assistance provided by the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust in the wake of the tragedy had spurred him to set up the GoFundMe page.

“If the KBRT had not been set up, how could anyone afford to bring Niall back to his parents? I think we all took a step back and thought about this tragic situation and realised if the shoe was on the other foot, where would your family even begin in the heartbreaking process of bringing your body home?

“I know most families could not afford to be in a situation like this.  It is hard enough losing a family member, never mind the added trauma of not knowing when or how you will get them home,” he added.

“At least, with the help of the KBRT, it is a smooth process for everyone involved and Niall’s family can have him home as soon as possible to lay him to rest.”

The company boss admitted he was shocked to discover the fund had amassed $50,000 dollars in its first 15 hours from just 515 contributions.

“To add to this the page has been shared by over 2,000 people both in Ireland and abroad,” he revealed.

“Their kindness has been unbelievable and everyone should be really proud of what they have done.

“It just goes to show how much people thought of Niall.  How could you not like a man who walked around with a permanent smile on his face from day to day? Niall’s loss will leave a massive void in our company and he will be hugely missed within the Irish community here in Melbourne.

“We have not only lost an employee, but we have lost a good friend too, but he is definitely one man who we will never forget.”

Sinn Féin councillor Barra O’Muiri also lauded the incredible response to the campaign citing it as “further proof, if proof were needed, of the deep affection that Niall was held in and the amount of people he touched in his all too short life.”

He said the reaction would be hugely appreciated by Niall’s family and the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, “who have so often come to the aid of so many people in their darkest hours.”

Niall’s heartbroken friends in Australia paid their respects at a special Mass in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Randwick, Sydney on Thursday evening and a second remembrance service, organised by his employer, Trevor Meegan, will be held today (Monday) in St Mary’s chapel in St Kilda, Melbourne.

The GoFundMe campaign is still open and anyone who wishes to donate can do so at www.gofundme.com/t4xstkks or by searching Niall ‘Nidge’ Quinn on www.gofundme.com.

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