A BRAVE Cork woman fought back tears as she praised the charity who helped return her brother to his final resting place after he died tragically while abroad.
Michelle Murphy’s devastation at losing her brother was only exacerbated after learning it would cost her family in the region of €20,000 to fly his remains home.
Father-of-three, Wanfred Callanan, known to friends as Wanny, passed away suddenly while in Guernsey on April 1. He had been living on the island in the years leading up to his death.
One of the 36-year-old’s wishes was to be buried close to his grandfather in Caherlag Cemetery.
The family, who hails from Little Island, was advised by neighbours to seek the help of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, a charity specialising in helping toward the repatriation of loved ones.
“Guernsey might not seem that far to most but when you’re waiting to get a loved one’s remains home, it’s a million miles away,” Michelle explained.
“It would have cost us €20,000 just to get Wanny to Dublin Airport,” Michelle explained.
“That was before any of the funeral costs. The news was so unbelievable. For any family to put their hands on that kind of money is a big ask.
“Of course, no matter what, we would have found a way of getting Wanny home, but it would have been a lot more difficult without the charity’s help.”
The weeks leading up to Wanny’s funeral were excruciatingly difficult for his family.
“We sat up all night after learning that Wanny had died, but didn’t tell mum until the next morning. We wanted to give her one last night of peaceful sleep.
“All I wanted was to get on that plane, but I was advised against it as it would have held up the process.
“We waited three weeks to have Wanny home. It might sound like a long time, but it would have a been another week were it not for the help we had from the charity.
“I hope and pray that no other family goes through what we did, but in their darkest hour they can know that the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust is there to help.”
Michelle thanked Wanny’s friends in Guernsey who set up a GoFundMe account to help towards his funeral cost.
She also extended gratitude to the Little Island community.
“There was such an outpouring of love from one “little island” to another.
“Wanny’s friends in Guernsey, who were unable to travel, put together a GoFundMe campaign ahead of the funeral to help cover costs.
“Wanny’s friends in Cork carried him from our home to the church. There were people who brought my mum bags of shopping. It all meant so much to us.”
Michelle is happy in the knowledge that her late brother was given the send-off he deserved.
“We always joked that Wanny had no shame because he loved bands like Westlife, Little Mix and singers like Britney Spears.
“One of his wishes was to have Westlife played at his graveside. His friends joked afterwards that it was the last time they would be forced to sit through three-and-a-half minutes of Westlife. I’ve no doubt that Wanny was looking down on us laughing.”
She described her late brother as “adored” adding:
“Wanny loved Man United. He was patriotic and a Britney Spears fan, but above all, he was a father who loved his children.”
Michelle held a coffee morning in memory of her brother just a few days ago with the help of friends in the community. The event raised €3,000 for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.
“I’d particularly like to thank Hilda Keohane, Christine Byrnes and Marion Hourigan who initially put me in touch with the charity,” Michelle added.
The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust was set up by the Bell family in Newry following a personal tragedy. Colin Bell’s 26-year-old son, Kevin, passed away after a suspected hit-and-run in New York. Since then, the charity has helped a total of 486 families whose loved ones have died away from home.
Wanfred is survived by his three children, Taylor, Jayden and Ruairí.