Almost 100 bereaved families helped by KBRT in 2016

January 9, 2017

The Newry-based Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust (KBRT) helped almost 100 bereaved families with the return of the bodies their loved ones who died abroad during the last year.

Colin Bell, the founder of the charity which helps to repatriate the bodies of Irish people who die abroad, revealed it helped out in 98 cases during 2016, an increase of around 25%.

Colin Bell, together with his wife Eithne and family, set up the trust in memory of his 26-year-old son Kevin, who died in a suspected hit-and-run in New York in 2013.

The past year has seen the trust assist bereaved families across a wider range of nations, in particular in South America, although Mr Bell said Spain, England, Canada and the United States are “the most common”.

“We have had countries that you wouldn’t have heard of before, because our name is out there now.  We have seen more cases in South America, including Argentina and Uruguay. The most difficult was Sister Clare because the country was in turmoil after the earthquake,” he said, referring to the death of Derry nun, Sister Clare Crockett, who was killed in an earthquake in Ecuador in April.

In September, the trust moved into new offices at Whitegates Community Business Park in Newry, having previously operated out of the Bell family home.

Mr Bell says he is “delighted” with the move, which has helped the family find a greater balance between their work with the trust and home life.

“It is out of the house now. We were living with it 24/7. Now we can do whatever needs to be done and then go home and park it and have a normal life,” he said.

Since it was established, the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust has helped bring home the bodies of more than 230 Irish citizens.

Newry & Armagh MP Mickey Brady recently praised those behind the charity’s work: “We all salute the work of this brave family, their friends and Kevin Bell Trust Volunteers for their great work and practical and emotional support for families in their deepest time of need.  They continue to be shining examples to us all.”