By Sarah Slater
A family who lost an adored son and brother last month in a tragic accident in Australia want to give back to a community of strangers who helped them when they needed it most.
Brian Mason, 28, originally from Broadford, Co Clare died in a motorbike accident 10 hours north of his home in Perth, Western Australia five weeks ago.
He was on his way back home to where he had moved to more than three years ago following a visit to a friend in the town of Karratha, on September 22 when tragedy struck.
His older sister Pauline, who now lives in London, explained: “No other vehicle was involved but the bag he was travelling with got caught in the rear wheel of his bike and we lost Brian. A girl who came on the crash, rushed to help him so she assured us he wasn’t alone on the road after the accident.”
News that something had happened to Brian reached Pauline by Facebook message when their mother Kathleen was visiting her in London for the weekend.
“I’m thankful my mother was with me when we got the news, as she had been due to travel over to me the previous weekend, but I changed it due to work commitments. The Facebook message letting us know that the Police in Western Australia wanted us to contact them changed our lives forever.
“I can honestly say that nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared any of us for this. When that information was given to us over the phone from a police sergeant in Western Australia, within a split second of information, our universe imploded for mam, my sister Michelle, brother Sean and our father John.
Our hearts were blown to smithereens. It was breathtaking. It still is.
“It took two weeks to bring Brian’s remains back to Clare, but from the moment we learnt of his accident a community in Australia just took over, and did everything for us without even knowing us.”
Pauline saw Brian, who was the youngest of four children, when she visited him last February in Perth and knew he had surrounded himself with what he loved - his work as a mechanic, his bike, his love of his telescope and the stars, his music, sport and the outdoor life.
“Brian also got the chance to travel home his home last April, which the family have many fond memories of and are very grateful to so have seen him so recently,” added Pauline.
In the family’s whirlwind of emotion and devastation, two charities - the Claddagh Association in Perth and the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust who help to bring loved ones home from abroad - “just enveloped us with help, guidance and took the awful harshness of dealing with all the administration and red tape that goes with losing a loved one abroad,” said Pauline.
“Those within the Claddagh Association helped to organise to bring his remains back to Perth, offered accommodation for his friends who had flown down to be with him, emotional support when his friends had to formally identify his body and helped with all the administration issues such as a coroner’s report.
“They were strangers but they were, and are, just amazing people to help us and Brian’s friends when they learned of what had happened.
“The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust were just superb when the unthinkable happened to us and without them too we would have struggled. They funded the entire repatriation which helped get him back home to us so much quicker than would otherwise have happened.
"Without the exceptional work of these types of organisations, our terrible loss would have been made even harder.”
As a way of thanking the two charities the Mason family are holding a fundraising tractor run on Sunday, November 25, so they can help to ensure that the vital work of the two charities continues for other people who loose relatives and friends abroad.
“The route will run past our childhood home. All tractors, trucks, lorries and cars are welcome. The day will also be a great opportunity to celebrate Brian’s life which he lived to the absolute fullest.
“As somebody said to me recently, this is the kind of thing you never want to have do for anyone. Especially not an immediate family member. And most especially not when they are ripped away from you so suddenly and so cruelly at the age of 28.
“Brian was a wonderful friend who meant so much, to so many people, and whose life was absolutely stuffed with interests, passion and meaning. One of the saddest things of all is that it is only in his death that we have discovered the extent of his impact on people’s lives and particularly his friends' lives, in Ireland and Australia.
“Speaking for myself, I consider that I have not just lost a brother, but one of my closest friends and confidantes."
He was my youngest brother, but I don’t think I could have looked up to anybody more than I looked up, and continue to look up to him.”
Donations can also be made on the GoFundMe page,