Family of tragic Livingston woman Kirsty Maxwell set up charity to help others whose loved ones die abroad

Dad talks of helplessness in trying to find out what is happening

Friday, 24th January 2020, 11:22 am
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 11:48 am
Kirsty Maxwell with husband Adam

THE family of Kirsty Maxwell, who fell to her death from a balcony in Benidorm nearly three years ago, have set up a charity to help other families whose loved ones die abroad.

Kirsty, 27, from Livingston, was in the Spanish resort with a group of friends for a hen party in April 2017 and had returned from a night out when she fell from the balcony of a tenth-floor apartment. A Spanish judge has ruled her death was an accident, but Kirsty's family are still unhappy with the way the investigation was conducted.

Kirsty's dad Brian Curry described how they had flown to Benidorm as soon as they learned of the tragedy. But they arrived in the early hours of the morning with no-one to meet them and nowhere to stay.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It took them two days to find out where Kirsty's body was, they had no translator to help them understand police reports, they struggled to find a lawyer and they received limited help from the Foreign Office.

Brian said he felt a mix of emotions at the time, including anger, frustration, grief, helplessness and abandonment.

Now he says they do not want any other family to have to experience the same difficulties at such a traumatic time.

The Kirsty Maxwell Charity aims to offer advice and support to families who have to cope with a loved one dying abroad in suspicious or unexplained circumstances.

Brian said: "When something happens abroad you always her the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are helping people. We hear it now and we go 'That's not true'. They do what they can, but they work within such a really tight remit that we know it just doesn't happen. You've really got to help yourself."

The first things a family may need are legal advice and a good translator. The charity hopes to be able to help people find the assistance they need.

"That first 48 hours, if you can get that help, it can go a long way," said Brian. "We didn't really have that help. We really missed out."

And he said little had changed in the past three years. "If what happened to Kirsty happened tomorrow, they would still be in the same boat. We want to make sure there is something in place for people like us so they don't have to go through this again."

Livingston SNP MP Hannah Bardell and her MSP colleague Angela Constance have both campaigned for more to be done for families whose loved ones die abroad. Ms Constance has spoken of the "myriad of hoops and hurdles" relatives can face and the need for more practical assistance. And Ms Bardell travelled to Spain to meet the UK ambassador there and the Spanish magistrates’ liaison officer.