Colin Bell, who founded a charity to support families whose loved ones died overseas, has received an award from Theresa May. 

The Newry native and his wife Eithne set up the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust after their son was killed in a suspected hit-and-run in New York. 

The well-known charity has now helped bring home almost 500 bodies to their final resting place.  

Awarding Bell for his relentless humanitarian work, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the grieving father had "turned a personal tragedy into a force for good".

Kevin Bell was 26 when he was killed in New York in 2013. After the tragedy, £100,000 ($126,000) was raised to help bring his body home to his devastated family. 

Difficult to find a more deserving winner of the PM's Points of Light award than Colin Bell of the Newry-based Kevin Bell Trust. What amazing work they do helping bereaved families bring their loved ones home

— Chris Hagan (@hagan_utv) August 22, 2018

With the excess funds, his parents set up the charity to spread the generosity and compassion to others in similar circumstances.

Receiving the award, Bell said he was "very surprised, pleased and grateful to the prime minister for recognizing the work of the trust".

"I am delighted also with the awareness which will be raised for the trust through this award and hope that it will encourage those people in England, Scotland and Wales who are in the process of setting up similar trusts based on The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust model," he added.

Last year, the former school teacher and his retired nursery school worker wife won the lottery - a reward for their many years of good deeds.

A man who turned the death of his son into a force for good has been recognised by the Prime Minister. The Trust Colin Bell founded with his wife has helped bring the remains of more than five hundred people home after sudden deaths abroad. Louise Cullen reports: pic.twitter.com/MFIHw24wyR

— BBC Newsline (@bbcnewsline) August 22, 2018

The couple, who have six other children, thanked their late son for "watching over them" and granting them their good luck.

"Knowing Kevin he's probably up there saying 'I knew I could do something for you'. Kevin's still looking after us and looking after the rest of the family, in a different sort of way," Eithne said at the time.

Read more: Family of Kevin Bell creates fund to bring deceased loved ones back to Ireland

Colin and Eithne Bell, founders of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Fund, when they won the lotto in 2017. @TNLUK/TWITTER