Belfast Telegraph

700th repatriation by Northern Ireland charity that brings home loved ones who die abroad

Colin Bell, who runs the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust
Colin Bell, who runs the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust

By Gabija Gataveckaite

A charity set up after the death of a young Northern Ireland man abroad six years ago has made its 700th repatriation.

Eithne and Colin Bell formed the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust in memory of their 26-year-old son, who was killed in a hit-and-run collision in New York in 2013.

The organisation was set up the same year.

The weekend marked the 700th repatriation of remains of a person who died overseas to Ireland.

So far this year the charity has assisted with around 70 repatriations.

"Once it arises on your own door, you notice it," Mr Bell told RTE Radio.

"You probably wouldn't have noticed the amount of Irish people dying abroad but once it comes to your own door, you notice."

His wife said that this year alone around 70 bodies have been brought home "and we're only in April".

It can cost up to €10,000 to transport a body home to Ireland.

Former teacher Colin explained: "We take quite a few people home from England - it's generally £1,000 to £2,000.

"From Europe, it could be €4,000 to €6,000. In Thailand, you're up to €7,000 to €8,000.

"If you go to Australia, it's around €8,000.

"America is quite expensive, it's generally between €8,000 and €10,000.

"We have a network now of experience and if a family contacts us we can say: 'Look, you don't have to do another thing we'll look after everything and we'll pay for it as well'."

The charity does not receive any Government funding and sustains itself on donations.

When an Irish person dies abroad, it reaches out to the family and offers to help with financial costs.

The community in Newry came together and held fundraisers in order to help bring Kevin's body back to Ireland, raising £150,000.

"I suppose that was the start of it," said Mr Bell.

"A couple of weeks after Kevin's funeral we heard of a young fella from Carryduff in Belfast had been killed in Thailand, so we contacted the parents and said we have this money we'll pay to bring your son home.

"We kept reaching out and then we said: 'Look, we'll make this Kevin's legacy'."

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