What a fantastic year it has been on the road. I hope you have all enjoyed and learnt something from reading my blogs. This month’s post is a short one. We end the year in Northern Ireland with two thought provoking trips, which were both inspiring and emotional.
Queen’s University Belfast Visit on 18th December 2017
Roy Smith and I visited Queen’s University Belfast Medical School to present a cheque for £10,000 for a Hospital Saturday Fund medical elective donation for the third quarter of 2017.
The Queen’s University of Belfast’s School of Medicine was established in 1849, which makes it one of the oldest in the UK. With an undergraduate population of 1,350 students from Northern Ireland, the UK and beyond, the school prides itself on providing a perfect balance between world- class teaching and internationally recognised research infrastructures. In addition, the University is a member of the Russell Group of leading UK Universities.
We met Professor Pascal McKeown, Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Ian Walsh, Electives Coordinator, Centre for Medical Education, Norma Sinte, Director of Development and Alumni Relations and Michaela Clarke, Development Manager (Trusts and Foundations). Ian explained that he had already received a large number of applications from students for HSF bursaries to a very diverse number of locations. I gave an overview of our general grant-making and the work HSF carries out in Northern Ireland. I outlined HSF’s disappointment at not being able to hold a Charity Reception in Belfast City Hall for the last number of years. Norma and Pascal advised that the Medical School would be delighted to host a reception at Queens at our next available date, which is November 2019!
The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust Visit on 18th December, 2017
Roy Smith and I visited the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust in Newry, Northern Ireland to assess a grant application towards the Charity’s repatriation service for bereaved families in Ireland.
The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust alleviates the financial hardship of bereaved families repatriating, back to Ireland, the bodies of loved ones who have died abroad in sudden or tragic circumstances. The Charity was founded in 2014, after the tragic death of Kevin Bell in New York.
We met Colin Bell, Trustee and father of Kevin. Colin explained that Kevin had been out in New York on a normal Saturday night and had returned home at about half three in the morning. As Kevin got out of a taxi, a white van came speeding by and struck him, drove on and then Kevin was hit by a second car. The local community raised
£100,000 to bring Kevin’s body home. The company Kevin worked for paid for him to be returned home. A few days later, Colin read about a family who had lost a son in Perth, so he assisted the family to repatriate their son. The following week Colin helped another bereaved family and so he decided to setup the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust. The Charity assists on average 5 bereaved families a week, repatriating loved ones from a very large number of countries around the world. I felt it was not just the financial assistance the Charity offered to families, but Colin’s knowledge of the systems in each country that was very impressive, which must be extremely helpful to bereaved families.
I am not always convinced about charities that are founded in memory of loved ones, but in this particular case Colin has found a way of helping bereaved families, where there was no support before 2014.
On a final note, thank you to everyone who has helped make this a successful year for the Hospital Saturday Fund. We plan to give out even more grant money next year, so watch this space. Have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year!