Belfast Telegraph

World moved by Quoirins' plight, says dad who founded Newry's Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust

Colin Bell
Colin Bell
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

A father who founded the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust in memory of his son who was killed by a car in New York said he believes the Quoirin family's trauma has touched people across the world.

Colin Bell, who along with wife Eithne set up the Newry-based charity that has helped repatriate almost 500 people who died abroad, described the loss of a child far away from home as "life-changing".

He was speaking as the investigation continues into what happened to 15-year-old Nora, whose body was discovered 10 days after she went missing on holiday in Malaysia.

An update on the cause of her death had been expected yesterday, but a post-mortem examination is ongoing and no further developments are expected until today.

Mr Bell said that although the circumstances surrounding their son Kevin's death were "very different", he understands what Nora's father Sebastien and mother Meabh, who's from Belfast, are going through.

"I think everybody has felt the pain of this family the whole time that she was missing," he said. "Everyone was wondering if she'd been found, and if she'd been abducted. The family have been in our thoughts and we have felt their pain."

Describing their 10-day wait for news that ended in tragedy as "horrific", Mr Bell said the one consolation was that their whole family was together.

He added: "We've experienced the loss of a child and we've met so many families who've lost a child abroad and it's just life-changing.

"The situation the Quoirins were in was so tragic. They were in a state of worry for so long.

"What they have gone through is just horrific for the whole family, especially the young ones. But the fact that they were together as a family was some consolation for them, at least they were together."

Mr Bell said that finding Nora's body will have brought an end to their ongoing despair, but he said the loss of a child is one of the hardest challenges for any parent to face.

"With the discovery of her body there will be some sort of closure, but they're only beginning, really, to grieve now because since she went missing it's just been pure agony for them," he said.

Reflecting on his own loss, Mr Bell said that his thoughts remain with Sebastien, Meabh, her sister Innes (12), and brother Maurice (9), who live in London.

"Kevin was 26. Kevin loved life. We had seven children. Things were grand, we were happy... and suddenly you get the terrible news that nothing can prepare you for and your life changes," he said. "Unfortunately, I don't think too many families go through life without some form of pain."

He added that the next step will be a milestone.

"The important thing now is to get Nora home," he said.

"Once we got Kevin home it was a great relief. At the very least it will be the beginning of a long grieving procedure for them."

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