Fund for repatriation of 25-year-old Banbury man who died suddenly abroad has smashed its target - family will distribute some to special causes

A fund set up to bring home to Banbury a much-loved son and brother who died abroad has soared over its target.

Monday, 6th December 2021, 3:07 pm
Updated Monday, 6th December 2021, 3:40 pm
Rory McLaughlin with his mum Jacqui and sisters Zoe and Megan

Now the family of 25-year-old Rory McLaughlin is planning to donate the surplus to his work place in Costa Rica and other worthy causes.

Rory, who lived with his Mum Jacqui in Grimsbury, died while travelling and working in Costa Rica. The trip was part of a travel ambition to see as much of the world as possible.

His sister Zoe said: "He had only been there since September 1. He was volunteering on a cacao farm and had already made some amazing friendships.

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One of the last pictures of Rory, taken in Costa Rica shortly before his death

"Our dad, Noel, died at 34 from a heart condition called Brugada. After he died we had tests and all three of us - Rory, my sister Megan and I - had Brugada and Long QT syndrome. We all had pacemakers fitted," she said.

"Rory went to bed on Monday, November 8 and died in his sleep when his heart stopped suddenly."

A fellow traveller staying in the same hostel heard a noise and reached Rory, giving him CPR, but was unable to revive him. He contacted the Embassy, kept Rory's belongings safe and has liaised with the McLaughlin family ever since.

After a long process, Rory was brought back to the UK today (Monday), four weeks after his death, and his funeral will take place later this month.

Rory aged four in a nursery school photograph

The cost of repatriation has been huge but hundreds of members of the Banbury community, as well as family and friends, rallied to the cause when the family put up a JustGiving page. The £25,000 target was smashed and £27,750 has been raised.

"It has felt like the longest time, waiting for him to come home," said his sister Zoe.

"He was the funniest, smartest, kindest person. Family and friends where so important to him and he would drop everything the second you needed him.

"He was a prankster and constantly liked to jump out and scare you or put something like chilli oil in your phone case and wait to see how long until you noticed.

Rory, aged eight, and his mum Jacqui on the beach during a family holiday on Ibiza

"Rory and our mum had the best relationship and he really was something special. They often went for weekends away to travel whenever they could.

"He went to Banbury School and Sixth Form and it was in Sixth Form that he made most of his best friends.

"He really loved to travel, if he could I think he would have liked to have seen the whole world. He had travelled through Europe and Australia and South America was his next big destination. Costa Rica was the first country on the trip.

"Rory read so many books, his favourite was The Count of Monte Cristo. But he would read anything and everything. He always said that one day he would love to own a bookshop where people just come to spend the day, relax and talk all things books.

Three-year-old Rory in his mum Jacqui's arms on the beach in Cornwall

"His other big love was music. He always had a speaker on him ready for his background music, usually with a beer in hand."

Ms McLaughlin described her brother as the 'best uncle'. "Nothing was ever too much to ask and he spent so much of his time with all of us; we were very lucky to all have such a close relationship with him - but it also makes the Rory hole in our lives so much harder to deal with.

"The Go-Fund me appeal has been amazing. We know that everyone Rory met loved him but it’s been so comforting seeing just how much everyone wanted to help and be part of bringing Rory home. The money will cover his repatriation cost, the funeral and the venue for afterwards."

Ms McLaughlin said the family would like to send some of the remaining money to the farm he was volunteering on in Costa Rica. They are also looking for other suitable causes connected with the environment and nature and also Rory's big love, books.

Rory's funeral takes place on Friday, December 17 at 12pm at Banbury Crematorium and afterwards at Church House, Horsefair. The family would like everyone to wear their brightest clothes in celebration of Rory's life.

Rory on a boating trip with nephew Finley
Rory with nephew Finley
Rory McLaughlin with his niece Phoebe on a day out
Rory on the annual family holiday in Cornwall in 2019
Rory with his mum Jacqui, nephew Alfie and Jacqui at Legoland
Rory with his sister Zoe and nephews Finley and Alfie on holiday in Cornwall