Teen’s death inspired idea to cut rising funeral costs for families
A bereaved Co Tyrone woman has found a novel way to help grieving families pay for soaring funeral bills.
Jane Dillon, from Dungannon, fundraised to buy tents large enough to cater for wakes after seeing heartbroken families, including her own, fork out thousands of pounds to bury their loved ones.
Weeks after the death of her father Gerry Hart in August last year, Jane was contacted by the family of a 14-year-old boy who died from a rare form of cancer, as they needed a tent to accommodate mourners attending his wake.
Kian McIntosh died in hospital on August 31, just days before he was due to start back at school.
Jane, a mother-of-three, said she inquired about the cost of hiring the tent used at her dad's wake, but was left shocked at the price.
"It was extremely expensive - it cost over £400 for two days and Kian's wake was three days and I thought it was an expense that a grieving family could do without," she said.
"So I decided after Kian's death that I would fundraise to buy a tent that people could use when a family member has died.
"Then just weeks later my uncle Jimmy (Hart) died from cancer and I saw again the need for this facility."
Jane spent months fundraising with the help of local people and businesses and was able to purchase two tents with the money collected.
She said the tents will help ease financial pressure on grieving families.
"This will help people at a time when they are most vulnerable, particularly those who don't have the financial means to pay for tents," she said.
"Everyone will need to use one at some stage and we wanted to do our bit to help bereaved people. The support has been overwhelming.
She added: "We decided to name one tent after Kian, because if it wasn't for him this probably would never have happened and the other will be named after the Harts.
"Ace Coaches in Dungannon have also been great and local businesses are stepping in and helping to set it up.
"Death in a family is something you can't get away from and these small things can mean so much when you are dealing with heartbreak.
"It's something our family wanted to do in memory of our dad and uncle. It gives us peace of mind to know that someone else will benefit from it.
"Organising a funeral is something you never really think about, but one day you will have to and it's so hard as it is without that added expense and worry about where they money will come from."
Kian's mum Vicky said the tent will help keep his memory alive.
"It means the world to me," she said.
"I'm delighted that the Hart family are keeping my precious son's memory alive, it's such a wonderful gesture out of something so tragic that happened to me and my family.
"From the bottom of my heart I'd like to thank Jane and the Hart family for their love and support."