Insight into The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

Sunday 3 April 2022 1:00

The grief and shock of losing a loved one unexpectedly is deepened when it happens in a far flung corner of the world. The added stress of dealing with the logistics and the financial burden of bringing that person home can make a heart-breaking situation even worse.

A new BBC Gaeilge documentary tells the story of how the tragic death in New York of a young man from Newry has helped grieving families across the island of Ireland repatriate almost 1,300 loved ones who have died abroad.

Bás as Baile, made by Clean Slate Television for BBC Gaeilge with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund, explores how, since its founding in 2013, The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust has helped families in their hour of need.

Kevin Bell, 26, was living and working in New York when he died tragically in a hit-and-run in 2013. Kevin’s parents, Colin and Eithne Bell, tell how the heart-breaking tragedy they faced spurred them on to help countless families across the island of Ireland who also lost loved ones abroad.

The programme, on Monday 04 April at 10pm on BBC Two Northern Ireland and on BBC iPlayer, offers an insight into the work of the Trust and hears from a number of families it has helped after their relatives passed away thousands of miles from home in countries as far away as Thailand, Azerbaijan, Sierra Leone and Taiwan.

The charity began when, after Kevin Bell’s tragic death, the people of Newry began fundraising to help pay for Kevin’s repatriation. More money was raised than was needed to bring Kevin home.

His parents decided to use the surplus to help others in a similar situation, and the charity named after their son has grown from there.

If a loved one passes away in some far flung corner of the world, the Trust will immediately arrange to have the body brought home and pay for it from their funds. They currently repatriate between 15 to 20 loved ones back to Ireland each month.

Drawing on their own experience, the Bells have helped grieving families who lost relatives in more than 60 different countries. As well as the logistical obstacles, it costs thousands of pounds to repatriate a body. The Trust steps in and meets the cost of the repatriation which can be up to £12,000 depending on where in the world they are.

Colin Bell says:

“It’s terrible to lose a child, but when that child is abroad and you think that he or she is alone there, and you’re here and there is nothing you can do. All you want is to have them home.”

In the documentary families of some of the people whom the Trust has helped tell of their pain at losing someone suddenly, with the extra complications involved when the relative dies abroad.

Belfast man Michael Douglas tells how his sister Heather died suddenly in Baltimore in the USA. After learning about the Trust and asking for Colin’s help, Heather was home in time for her mother to say goodbye. Donegal native Robbie Maloney talks about his brother Jamesy who died suddenly in Perth and how difficult it can be for a family to know what to do when faced with that situation. Tipperary woman Mary Nolan’s son Patrick died in an accident in Thailand during the first Covid lockdown. All Mary knew was that she wanted to bring him home. Until someone told her about the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust she had no idea how she was going to do this, especially in the middle of a global pandemic.

Everyone who contacts the Trust for help or assistance knows that the Bells went through the same heartache which they are currently experiencing. Yet Colin says that he is able to carry out the work of the Trust as everybody that they bring home is because of Kevin and they are proud of his legacy.

Eithne Bell says:

“It’s a great legacy for Kevin and if that’s why he was put on this earth, then that has been something.”

Bás as Baile

Dé Luain, 4 Aibreán 2022

BBC Two Northern Ireland, 10i.n, BBC iPlayer

Nuair a fhaigheann ball teaghlaigh bás go tobann in áit i bhfad ó bhaile, cuireann an achar leis an chumha agus leis an turraing. Is féidir leis an strus a bhaineann le fadhbanna lóistíochta agus brú airgid an briseadh croí a dhéanamh níos measa.

I gclár faisnéise úr do BBC Gaeilge, léirítear mar a chuir bás tragóideach an fhir óig Kevin Bell as Iúr Cinn Trá tús le tionscnamh carthanachta ar éirigh leis breis agus 1,300 corp a thabhairt ar ais go hÉirinn go dtí seo.

Sa chlár ‘Bás as Baile’, léirithe ag Clean Slate Television do BBC Gaeilge le tacaíocht ó Chiste Craoltóireachta Gaeilge de chuid Scáileán Thuaisceart Éireann, mínítear gur chuidigh an Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust le teaghlaigh ar fud na hÉireann in am an ghá ó bunaíodh é i 2013.

Bhí Kevin Bell, 26, ina chónaí agus ag obair i Nua Eabhrac nuair a maraíodh i dtimpiste bhóthair é agus níor stop an tiománaí sa bhliain 2013. Cuireann Colin agus Eithne Bell, tuistí Kevin, síos ar an dóigh a spreag an briseadh croí seo iad le cuidiú le teaghlaigh eile ar fud na tíre a chaill ball teaghlaigh thar lear.

Craolfar an clár Dé Luain 4ú Aibreán ag 10 i.n. ar BBC Two Northern Ireland agus ar an BBC iPlayer. Gheobhaidh an lucht féachana léargas ar obair an iontaobhais agus cluinfear ó theaghlaigh ar chuidigh an t-Iontaobhas leo nuair a fuair ball teaghlaigh s’acu bás go tobann na mílte míle ón bhaile, in áiteacha chomh fada ar shiúl leis an Asarbaiseáin, Siarra Leon agus an Téaváin.

Cuireadh tús leis an charthanas nuair a cailleadh Kevin Bell go tubaisteach nuair a tháinig pobal an Iúir le chéile le hairgead a bhailiú chun corp Kevin a thabhairt abhaile. Bailíodh i bhfad níos mó airgid ná mar a bhí de dhíth.

Chinn tuismitheoirí Kevin ar an airgead a bhí fágtha a úsáid le carthanas a bhunú le cuidiú le daoine eile a bhí sa chás céanna, carthanas a ainmníodh as a mac agus atá ag neartú ó shin.

Má fhaigheann duine bás in áit i bhfad ó Éirinn, déanfaidh an t-Iontaobhas na socruithe leis an chorp a thabhairt ar ais go hÉirinn agus íocfaidh siad as na costais ón chiste. Go hiondúil, déanann an t-Iontaobhas idir 15 agus 20 corp a aistriú chun an bhaile gach mí.

Mar go raibh taithí acu féin ar na cúrsaí seo, chuidigh clann Bell le teaghlaigh eile ar cailleadh duine muinteartha leo i níos mó ná 60 tír éagsúil. Mar aon leis na fadhbanna lóistíochta, bíonn costas mór i gceist chun corp a thabhairt ar ais go hÉirinn. Íocann an t-Iontaobhas as na costais, agus thig leis sin a bheith chomh hard le £12,000, ag brath ar an áit ar an domhan ina bhfuil siad.

Deir Colin Bell;

“Tá sé uafásach páiste a chailleadh, ach nuair atá an páiste sin thar sáile, síleann tú go bhfuil sé nó sí leo féin agus tá tusa anseo agus níl rud ar bith a thig leat a dhéanamh. Níl uait ach é nó í a fháil abhaile.”

Sa chlár cluinimid ó dhaoine ar chuidigh an t-Iontaobhas leo faoin phian a mhothaigh siad nuair a cailleadh duine muinteartha leo go tobann i bhfad ó bhaile agus faoi na constaicí breise a bhí le sárú.

Insíonn Michael Douglas ó Bhéal Feirste dúinn faoina dheirfiúr Heather a fuair bás go tobann i Baltimore i Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá. D’iarr sé cuidiú ar an Iontaobhas agus tugadh Heather chun an bhaile in am le go dtiocfadh le máthair s’aici slán a fhágáil lena hiníon.

Labhraíonn Robbie Maloney as Tír Chonaill ar a dheartháir Jamesy a fuair bás go tobann i bPerth na hAstráile agus a dheacra is a bhí sé don chlann nuair a tharla an tubaiste. Míníonn Mary Nolan as Tiobraid Árann go bhfuair a mac Patrick bás i dtimpiste insan Téalainn insan chéad dianghlasáil Covid-19. Bhí a fhios ag Mary gur mhian léi corp Patrick a fháil abhaile chomh gasta agus is féidir. Go dtí go bhfuair sí amach faoin Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, ní raibh a fhios aici cén dóigh leis sin a dhéanamh, go háirithe i lár phaindéim domhanda.

Tuigeann achan dhuine a dhéanann teagmháil leis an Iontaobhas gur fhulaing muintir Bell an briseadh croí céanna leo. Deir Colin go bhfuil sé in ann obair an Iontaobhais a dhéanamh mar go ndéantar é i gcuimhne ar Kevin agus go bhfuil siad bródúil as oidhreacht s’aige.

Deir Eithne Bell;

“Más í sin an chúis le Kevin ar an saol seo, is oidhreacht iontach dó é.”

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