An inspirational Donaghmore father of four has spoken publicly about the fatal hit-and-run collision that killed his wife and left him injured and alone in a foreign hospital with no one to explain what had happened.
Rosaleen Donaghy, from Galbally, and her husband Brian, were struck by a car in the Bulgarian resort of Sunny Beach in August 2014 while walking at a pedestrian crossing.
Tragically, Rosaleen died within hours, while Brian was rushed to hospital for treatment.
Now Brian has spoken about the heartbreaking incident in the build up to a gruelling charity cycle he is organising to raise funds for the organisations that have helped him and his family though their darkest days.
The brave 57 year-old will cycle 150 miles from Ballygawley to Tipperary on June 30, and has already raised over £3000.
“We were both walking back to our apartment when the accident occurred”, said Brian on social media. “I awoke the next morning in the hospital with no one able to identify what had happened or where my wife was.
“I contacted my children who then had to make contact with the embassy to find out their mummy had died. We went through a difficult couple of years coming to terms with what had happened but we were shown so much love and support from family and friends and their devotion to us gives us the strength to keep our heads held high.”
Last year, the family were confronted by another major challenge when Brian was diagnosed with cancer.
Before undergoing major surgery Brian told relatives and friends that he would like to do a charity cycle to give something back to the organisations that had helped the family.
“After life changing surgery and treatment I have been giving a chance to watch all my grandchildren grow up and make sure I make their nanny proud and love them for us both”, said Brian.
He said he and his wife had dreamed of retiring to Bulgaria and his last memory of Rosaleen was her sitting in a hairdressers.
“Rosaleen waved across the road at me with the huge big smile she always had for everyone.
“The Kevin Bell foundation contacted my family the second they found out our accident had occurred.
“Fortunately we had travel insurance in place but they were very helpful providing other assistance at the time. Many of our children make the decision to travel abroad for work and we never dream that something can happen but unfortunately it does.”
The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, which was set up following the death of Kevin Bell in New York aims to alleviate the financial hardship of bereaved families repatriating the bodies of loved ones who have died abroad in sudden or tragic circumstances back to Ireland.
So far they have repatriated 309 loved ones to their families, and from the beginning of 2017 have helped 62 families already.
“Charis Cancer Care have provided me personally with a lot of support through every stage of my journey. They provide a place to go and discuss your concerns or fears and a place to hide from reality.
“There aren’t many organisations that also value the role of carers and the mixed emotions your family goes through. The fact that Charis provides the same support to your family makes their surroundings so special. Each member of staff is hand picked for their jobs.
“As well as supporting people going through cancer I would also like to help raise money to help prevent cancer. Action Cancer’s mission is to save lives and support local people through awareness, prevention, detection and support.”
Charis recently celebrated its seventh anniversary by unveiling a significant expansion programme at its centre. Over 4,300 people have accessed the charity’s services to date.
Brian has thanked the flood of well-wishers on social media for their support and donations.
“Me and my family are truly overwhelmed by the support shown so far”, he said. “Thank you for all your kind donations. Keep sharing our page and help us give back to our chosen charities.”
If you would like to support Brian’s charity cycle to Tipperary, you can donate via his just giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/brian-donaghy