Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Repatriation trust receives unprecedented fundraising boost

The Newry based Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust (KBRT) has received an unprecedented donation from the family and friends of a young Cavan man who lost his life in a car accident in New Zealand in January.

Michael and Ann Cadden, the parents of 22-year-old Martin Cadden, recently presented the organisation with a cheque for a staggering 207,776.60 euro raised by the Martin Cadden Memorial Fund.  The money was raised during a mammoth charity drive at home and abroad, including a massive tractor run in April which saw more than 500 tractors taking part.

During a highly emotional cheque handover held in the Lodge in Gowna on Friday 21st August, the Cadden family paid tribute to Newry couple, Colin and Eithne Bell, who founded the charitable trust in memory of their own son Kevin who was killed in a hit and run accident in New York in June 2013.

The Trust has become such a lifeline to people throughout Ireland that it is now the first call made by many people hit by tragedy abroad.  Since its inception it has helped over 85 families repatriate their loved ones’ remains.

The Bells, along with everyone present on the night, were moved to tears as the cheque was unveiled on stage and Martin’s mother Ann extended her heartfelt thanks to the KBRT for their “unbelievable” support in helping to bring Martin home to his family.

The massive success of the concerted fundraising events organised by the entire community who rallied around the Cadden family was testimony to the esteem in which Martin and his family were held in and allowed them to give something back to the trust who had assisted them so much during their time of great distress and grief.

Mrs Cadden described the fundraising drive and the huge tractor run as a “tremendous tribute” to her beloved son and thanked everyone near and far for their fundraising efforts, making special mention of the fact that $63,000 had been raised abroad.

Addressing those gathered on the night, an emotional Colin Bell, said he felt privileged to have witnessed the success of the tractor run in Mullahoran and added,

“Never ever in my life have I experienced such a love for a family – such community – such a feeling of people’s presence. When you lose a son like that, there is no sense but you have to look for some good,”

“I can’t say enough, you are wonderful people, thank you so much,” said Mr Bell.

Speaking to The Examiner about the unprecedented donation, an extremely grateful Colin said the money would ensure “maybe 30 or 40 repatriations in the future” and said the circle of goodwill would allow them to continue with Kevin’s amazing legacy.

“It makes me proud to be Irish,” added Mr Bell.  “To think that so much money has been raised on this island since we started the trust is truly incredible.  Communities have rallied together and amazed us continuously with their generosity and support.

“The people of Newry astounded us with their fundraising efforts for Kevin and that momentum has continued ever since with communities fundraising throughout Ireland and consistently donating to KBRT.

“We still get anonymous donations by post of £5 and £10 and the thought that someone would go out of their way to send us whatever they can means so much to us and the families we are able to help as a result.

“KBRT has filled a need which was always there but nobody really knew about, only those families going through it themselves, and with our profile being raised all the time, we can keep doing what we’re doing to support families in every county in Ireland.

“We know exactly what these families are going through when they lose a loved one abroad and it gives us comfort that some good has come out of Kevin’s death, that we are able to do this in his memory. And we will continue to do it.”