Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

KBRT throws lifeline to Drennan family

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust (KBRT) has stepped up once again to help a bereaved family bring their loved one’s remains home from abroad.

The family of a young Newtownabbey man who died on what was supposed to be a dream holiday in Ibiza reached out to the KBRT and the charity has worked tirelessly to to help repatriate their son.

21 year old Alan Drennan, passed away on the Spanish island on Sunday 19th July, less than 24 hours after arriving with his friends.  Tragedy struck when his friends went to check on him on Sunday afternoon, only to find out from the hotel reception that Alan had been found dead in his room. Serious allegations have been raised that Alan was assaulted by officers from the Guardia Civil after being taken into custody at the airport on the island, resulting in inuries to his head and upper body.

His devastated father revealed that Colin Bell from the The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust – set up by Mr Bell after his son was killed in a hit-and-run in the US, had been in contact with the Drennans to help bring Alan’s body home.

“Colin Bell called and said: ‘I’ll have your son home for the weekend.’ And he’s paid for everything. Such a fantastic gentleman. I can’t thank that man enough,” said Mr Drennan.

Today (Monday), after days of negotiations with the Spanish authorities, retired primary school teacher Colin Bell hopes to bring Alan home to his family. He will be the 76th person to be repatriated by the Charity since its inception in 2013.

In the aftermath of Kevin Bell’s death,  friends and family rallied round to raise funds to repatriate his body. Within days, more than £40,000 was raised and as donations continued to pour in the fund grew to £150,000 and it was from these fundraising efforts that the KBRT was born.

Speaking after Mr Drennan’s death last Sunday, 62-year-old Colin said he understood the very specific pain not only of losing a son, but losing a son who was overseas.

He said: “I feel their pain. I’ve experienced it and there are no words to really explain it. But our pain and our loss is what makes this work possible.

“It helps keep us strong because we know we are doing good work for people in real need. When Kevin died a light went out in our lives, He was such a vibrant young man, he loved the craic and if there wasn’t any, he’d make it.”

Colin described the email he received from Alan’s father as “heartbreaking.”

“You could see it in every word but it felt good to be able to tell him we will get his son home. The family are just lovely and we know how grateful they are but we don’t need thanks, we just want to help.

“This work does affect us. Every one of the families we help, every story we hear affects us. We shed a lot of tears but it’s something we need to do and we’ll continue to do it.

“The hardest thing in this world is to lose a child. But to lose a child overseas adds another element of grief and the not knowing what to do, or where to go for help is awful. That’s where we step in.

“Sadly the work we do will always be needed while people travel out of Ireland.”

Colin intends to meet Alan Drennan’s coffin when it arrives in Dublin today where the Irish state pathologist has agreed to carry out a second post mortem.

To date the Trust has helped bring home travellers from 17 countries around the world, repatriating them to 22 counties in Ireland.

The charity relies entirely on donations and Colin is keen to stress that the KBRT is available to help anyone across all 32 counties. He also stressed that, although the majority of people repatriated have been Catholic, the charity is there for the Protestant community and anyone else who needs it.

“Basically we are here for families whatever their make-up. Loss is loss, grief is grief and our job is to bring our loved ones home so their families can grieve properly.”