Colin founded the Kevin Bell Trust (KBRT) after the tragic loss of his own son Kevin in New York in 2013, a loss which inspired him to help other families coping with the sudden loss of a family member beyond the shores of home.
One such family was the Church family who received the news of Craig’s sudden death in 2017 after he fell from a balcony at an apartment block in the eastern city of Rui’an - news which devastated both his family and many friends back in Portstewart and the new family he had made in his adopted home.
27-year-old Craig had been in China teaching English following his studies in Dominican and his Degree in English Literature and Masters in Anglo Irish Literature from the University of Ulster.
Craig was described by his sister Carrie as someone who was: “born to teach...with a smile that would light up any room”.
Inspired by the help given to the Church family and in honour of past pupil Craig, since 2017 the Dominican community has been fundraising to help the Kevin Bell Trust through a variety of charity initiatives including the school’s annual Beach Walk.
Recently Ms Rosemary Ronan, Dominican Principal and Mr Gerry Lynch, Vice-Principal, presented Colin and Eithne Bell with a cheque for £10,000 to help support their work. The school was also delighted to welcome Craig’s parents Rhonda and Ian and his sister Carrie to meet with the people who had done so much to help them in their darkest hours in 2017.
To date the Kevin Bell Trust has helped more than 1,300 families bring their loved ones home to every county 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.
Colin Bell explained how The Trust operates on a 32 counties basis for all sides of the community, creed, colour and circumstances of death. Typically, costs per repatriation can rise to £12,000 depending on the circumstances of the death, local charges and hospital release costs.
The work done by the Kevin Bell Trust has been recognised and the charity has received many awards including The 2019 Dublin Lord Mayor’s Award and the UK Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award recognising outstanding volunteers.
In 2016/17 KBRT were the GAA’s official charity and also the official charity for Cork International Airport and Belfast International Airport.