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Rodgers honeymoon tragedy: Waiting worst part, explains grief-hit dad


Shared grief: Colin Bell

Shared grief: Colin Bell

Eva with Lynette

Eva with Lynette

John and Lynette Rodgers on their wedding day

John and Lynette Rodgers on their wedding day

Co Down couple John and Lynette Rodgers, who drowned on honeymoon in South Africa

Co Down couple John and Lynette Rodgers, who drowned on honeymoon in South Africa

Plettenberg Bay in South Africa

Plettenberg Bay in South Africa


Shared grief: Colin Bell

A father behind a family-run charity that helps to bring the bodies of people who die abroad back home has told how he offered support to the grieving families of Lynette and John Rodgers.

Colin Bell contacted Eva Reilly just hours after she was told the devastating news that her daughter and new son-in-law had drowned on honeymoon.

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust (KBRT) was set up just over two years ago by the Bell family from Newry, Co Down, after a personal tragedy.

Colin's 26-year-old son Kevin was killed in a hit-and-run in New York in June 2013.

Since then the bereaved father has focused on helping other families whose loved ones die in sudden or tragic circumstances abroad.

"It is just that sense of helplessness, with a loved one being so far away - thousands of miles away. I know from my own personal experience how that is," he said.

Mr Bell added: "A member of Eva's church rang me and asked if I could call her on Saturday morning, and Lady Sylvia Hermon MP had started the ball rolling and had contacted the Foreign Office." Mr Bell now helps grieving families with the financial and administrative burdens that arise when someone dies far from home.

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The retired teacher explained that because the couple had insurance, the charity didn't need to step in to help with arrangements.

"It's not a suspicious death and because insurance was arranged we don't need to be involved.

"But, of course, we wanted to help in any way we can."

Mr Bell explained that the arrangements to have the couple returned home will be carried out by the repatriation company which the insurance company uses.

Colin's son had been a popular member of his local GAA club and in the aftermath of Kevin's death, friends and supporters in Newry raised about £150,000 towards the cost of his repatriation.

Colin said it was important that there was no delay in the process of bringing the bodies home.

"The waiting now is the worst part and the huge feeling of helplessness," he said.

"I know myself personally and from helping other families deal with this that there is a huge sense of relief when you finally get your loved one home. The longer it takes, the more stressful it is."

The Foreign Office has confirmed it is providing consular assistance to both families.

Lady Hermon, the MP for North Down, told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "I've called to see both John's family and Lynette's over the weekend and I must say I am full of admiration for the great dignity and courage they have shown in the face of terrible tragedy. The Foreign Office in London has been really helpful behind the scenes and will keep the families updated. It is, however, still too early to know when Lynette and John will be brought back home again."

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