After Omagh I put a gun to my face

Kevin Skelton lays a wreath on behalf of the Families Moving On group.
Kevin Skelton lays a wreath on behalf of the Families Moving On group.

A man who lost his wife in the Omagh bomb in 1998 will give a talk in Derry on Wednesday.

Kevin Skelton has been invited to speak at the Wednesday lunchtime event organised by the Towards Understanding and Healing in partnership with the Garden of Reflection.

17 years ago Kevin’s life was torn apart when the Omagh bomb exploded in the town’s city centre killing 29 people.

August 15 1998 started off as a normal day for the family as they went out for a day’s shopping to buy the kids their school uniforms.

But Kevin’s wife Mena was killed in the explosion and was never to return home. Kevin’s daughter Shauna who was with them survived but with -horrific injuries.

In the aftermath Kevin sank into the depths of despair drinking and self-loathing, often wishing he could have taken Mena’s place that day.

More than once, he held a loaded shotgun to his face.

“But I couldn’t do it,” said Kevin, “I’d catch sight of a ­photograph of Mena, or one of the kids, and put it down again. How glad I am now that I didn’t pull that trigger. I would never have seen my lovely daughter marry and my beautiful grandson grow into the lively little fella he is today. I would never have had the chance to make the most of what I have left, and to turn my life round in ways I could never have imagined.”

Before Mena’s tragic death, she and Kevin had been bringing a young girl, Andrea, from a Romanian orphanage, for holidays to their home.

In memory of Mena, Kevin decided to adopt Andrea. On Kevin’s first trip to Romania to start proceedings, he was shocked to encounter Andrea’s mother, Maria. A loving relationship blossomed between Kevin and Maria. Kevin and Maria are now married and living in Omagh.

They are parents together to one young daughter, Gabriella.

Kevin is the active chairman of an inclusive victims/survivors support group based in Omagh-Families Moving On. Families Moving On is committed to support the growth and well being of all its members.

This Testimony event will be facilitated by Towards Understanding and Healing.

Wednesday’s event will run from 12.30pm to 2.00pm and is open for all to attend.

A light lunch will be provided. Please phone Marjorie on (028) 7126 1941 to register for a place.