Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

KBRT founder receives Prime Minister’s award

The founder of the renowned Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust has been recognised by the Prime Minister for his work in helping bereaved families bring home their loved ones who have died abroad.

Colin Bell, who along with his wife Eithne, set up the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust after their 26-year-old son was killed in a suspected hit-and-run in New York in 2013, has received a Points of Light Award for the tireless work of the charity. 

Following Kevin’s death, there was an outpouring of local and global support and donations to raise funds to bring the hugely popular Newry man’s remains back to his grieving family. Over £100,000 was raised to help bring Kevin home and the Bell family decided to use the excess funds to set up a charity to support families in the repatriation of their loved ones.  Along with wife Eithne, they assist people throughout Ireland and, since 2013, the KBRT has brought home over 500 individuals who have died overseas.  

Expressing his surprise at receiving the award, Colin said he is “pleased and grateful” for the recognition from the Prime Minister and added,

“I am delighted also with the awareness which will be raised for the trust through this award and hope that it will encourage those people in England, Scotland and Wales who are in the process of setting up similar trusts based on ‘The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust’ model.”

Former Abbey PS teacher, Colin is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. 

In a personal letter to Colin, Prime Minister May said, “By establishing the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust you have turned a personal tragedy into a force for good, assisting hundreds of families going through the traumatic experience of bringing the body of a loved one home. You should feel incredibly proud of the work you are doing in Kevin’s memory to support grieving families across Northern Ireland and Ireland.”

Newry and Armagh MP, Mickey Brady praised the Bell family and the volunteers who help to bring about the assistance of KBRT to families throughout Ireland.

“It is truly inspirational to see the commitment of my constituents Colin and Eithne Bell in the essential work that they carry out through ‘The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust,” said Mr Brady. 

“Since 2013 they have assisted in the repatriation of over 500 people from across the world. 

“The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust charity is there to help families at a time of great distress and when help is most crucially needed. 

“I commend them and the trust volunteers for this great work and for the practical and emotional support they provide for families at the time of greatest need. They are shining examples to us all,” added the MP.