Praise for Kevin Bell Trust after husband's body returned from Australia weeks before birth of son

The family of a Lurgan woman, whose husband died in Australia while she was 33 weeks pregnant, have paid tribute to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

Wednesday, 15th August 2018, 4:28 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:06 pm

Jeni McStravick had emigrated to Sydney in 2007 where she met Joey Fitzgerald and they married in 2011.

The couple had a little girl Skylar who will be two years old next month. Jeni was pregnant when her husband took ill and passed away in April just before his 36th birthday.

Her parents, John and Kathleen McStravick, who live in Silverwood, travelled thousands of miles to Australia to be with their grief-stricken pregnant daughter.

Joey, Jeni and their daughter Skylar Fitzgerald

It was a traumatic time for the whole family and, moreso for Jeni who, at 33 weeks pregnant, had to make an immediate decision on returning home.

Jeni’s mum Kathleen said: “We had absolutely no idea what lay ahead of us or the process for repatriation.

“Time was not on our side as Jeni was 33 weeks pregnant with their son Riley and we needed to ensure that we got her and Joey home before a no fly restriction was placed on her. “My sister-in-law Denise had heard of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust and she immediately emailed explaining the situation.

“To say we were ‘blown away’ by their support was an understatement. They began by providing us with the reassurance we needed at a time of great stress, that everything was in hand.

“They took care not only of the significant cost of repatriation from Australia but also the enviable and highly complex red tape involved. Joey was buried in his native Roscommon less than two weeks after he died - a feat which we could never have imagined when that first email was sent to the KBRT.”

Jeni’s mum Kathleen said her daughter gave birth to little Riley in June and has remained at home at Silverwood as she comes to terms with the tragic death of her husband.

“She had went to Australia in 2007 on a year visa and worked in a kindergarten and as a private nanny. She had been off work as she was pregnant when Joey passed away,” said Kathleen.

“I don’t know what we would have done without the compassion of the Kevin Bell Trust. It is truly inspirational when people turn their own personal tragedy into a way of helping other people. That is what the Colin and Eithne Bell’s did when they created the Trust as a legacy to their own son who died while working in America in 2013. Since then they have repatriated over 500 people from all over the world.”