Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Delight at KBRT charity founders’ £1m windfall

Tears of joy were shed across Newry and Mourne last week as news emerged that a much-loved Newry couple who turned a tragedy into a charity that has helped so many families had become the National Lottery’s newest millionaires.  

Colin and Eithne Bell, founders of the renowned Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust (KBRT) were presented with their cheque for a cool one million pounds at a National Lottery Function in the Canal Court Hotel on Thursday last.  As news quickly spread of the charity champions’ jackpot win, the phrase “good things happen to good people” became the motto of the day.

The people of Newry rallied around the Bell family four years ago, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds in a matter of days to help repatriate their beloved son Kevin from New York after he was tragically killed in a hit and run accident there. The money raised was more than enough to bring their son home and the couple pledged to plough the remaining funds into helping other families suffering the same loss. Thus the KBRT was born and continues to alleviate the financial and logistical hardship of bereaved families, repatriating the remains of 330 people from all over the world to every county in Ireland since its inception in 2013. 

Now, in the most heartwarming turn of events, the couple have become the north’s latest Lottery Millionaires after scooping the jackpot in the EuroMillions UK Millionaire Maker on Tuesday 10th June.  Celebrating after the presentation of their cheque, Colin said the main beneficiaries would be their six children, aged between 26 and 32.

Revealing how they discovered their win, retired teacher Colin (64) and Eithne (61), a retired nursery school worker, said they were settling in for a quiet night in front of the telly when their evening took an unexpected but remarkable twist.

“I was watching the early evening news with Eithne when the EuroMillions numbers flashed up on screen,” said Colin.  “I remembered that I’d bought a ticket for the draw but that I hadn’t checked my numbers so I took out my wallet, went online and was disappointed to see that I hadn’t matched any numbers.

“However, when I checked the unique Millionaire Maker code I was totally floored to see that it matched my code!” he added.

In disbelief, Colin turned to his wife to tell her that they had just become millionaires!

“I told Eithne that I thought we had just won £1M and she laughed, thinking that I was joking. But when I repeated it and she saw the look on my face, she soon realised that I was being serious.”

Once the shock passed, the couple went to their daughter Ciara’s house who double checked the code and “started dancing around the room and whooping.”  With the win finally sinking in and having received confirmation from Camelot, they contacted each of their children to tell them the amazing news.  Daughter Maeve (26), who was travelling back home from Australia as the events were unfolding, only discovered her parents’ good fortune after being collected at the airport the following day. 

“We said nothing of our news until we had her safely in the car but when she heard we had to pull over as she was in total shock and needed some air.  Her reaction was priceless,” said Colin.

When asked what they plan to spend the money on Colin commented “My wife would love a sun room extension on the house and a new car and I plan to buy a couple of 10 year Premium Level Tickets for Croke Park,” and he concluded “But we’ll spend most of it changing the lives of our children – that will bring us so much joy!”