A CHARITY set up by grieving parents after the loss of their son has helped bring home 36 Donegal people who have died abroad in the past eight years.
The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust was set up by Kevin’s parents Colin and Eithne after their son tragically passed while living abroad in 2013.
They have since helped with the repatriation of 1,229 loved ones to their families in Ireland from countries worldwide such as Australia, Argentina, South Korea, USA, Canada, Ecuador, Cambodia, India, Uganda to name just a few. The Trust repatriates approximately 15-20 loved ones back to Ireland per month.
On Saturday, Colin and Eithne walked the railway line in lower Loughanure with local woman Bríd ‘Winnie’ Sweeney who has undertaken a 365 day walking challenge this year to raise money for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.
“We were delighted to hear about Bríd’s initiative to walk for 365 days and we went up to meet her on Saturday and do one of the walks with her,” said Mr Bell this week.
“We have a house in Ardsbeg, Gortahork and we love coming to Donegal. We met her friends and thanked her for the work she is doing and the fantastic money she is raising for the Trust.
“We have taken thirty-six home to Donegal since 2013. We’ve taken 148 back to Antrim and 188 to Dublin but they’re the two big population centres,” he said.
The Trust operates on a 32 counties basis for all sides of the community, creed, colour and circumstances of death.
Repatriations by province to date are Ulster 473, Leinster 373, Munster 233 and Connaught 150.
Costs per repatriation can cost up to £12,000 Stg depending on the circumstances of the death, local charges and hospital release costs.
Working as a receptionist with RAP in Gaoth Dobhair, Bríd and her friend Ella Byrne complete a 6k loop near her Loughanure home most evenings.
A mother of two grown-up children, she has lost two nephews and a Godson in tragic circumstances over the past six years.
“I’m raising money for Kevin Bell for personal reasons. They help families in times of sadness and help ensure that loved ones who died outside Ireland are looked after and brought safely home,” she said.
“I’ve collected over €8,000 to date and we’re less than a month into the challenge. I’m truly humbled by the response and all monies raised throughout the rest of the year will go to Kevin Bell,” she said.