Heartbroken family members of a language teacher who died abroad are living a nightmare as they face an ‘impossible’ battle to raise £25,000 to repatriate his body.
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Mystery surrounds the death of dad-of-two Kevin Little with authorities in China tight-lipped over a police investigation into the 39-year-old’s demise.
The family of Kevin Little who died aged 39 in China, on July 30, 2019, are trying to raise 25,000 to repatriate his body from China.”Pictured is Kevin’s mum Wendy Viljoen, 58, with Kevin’s siblings Adam Little, 35, Shelly Little, 34, and Chris Little, 30.”Picture: Sarah Standing
Praised as selfless and a ‘role model’ to his family, epileptic Kevin’s death on July 30 has wrought heartache on his three siblings and parents.
Kevin’s two brothers Adam and Chris, sister Shelly and mum Wendy Viljoen had wished him well on his birthday on July 29 as he celebrated the occasion with cake and squash at school with colleagues, pupils and their parents.
Devastated Wendy, landlady at the Derby Tavern in Stamshaw, said Kevin was ‘laughing and joking’ but she is now left in turmoil not knowing what happened to him.
The 58-year-old said: ‘It’s the most frustrating, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking thing.
‘I feel like someone has punched me in the throat and stabbed me in the heart.
‘I just want my child home so we can do what’s right for him with his brothers and his sister. I just want my son home.’
Wendy added: ‘The last we’ve been told is the police investigation is still going on.
‘I just want answers from them, all I want to know was if they’ve finished the investigation and when can we bring him home, that’s all I want to know but everyone is being so vague.’
Kevin was last in Portsmouth, where he had lived on and off for 10 years, in November in 2018.
He has spent eight years teaching English in China near Shanghai. He lived around 80 miles north of the major city in Nantong.
But Wendy, who said her son was amazing, said she was now at a loss with authorities in Britain and China as the family has been left to hunt information for themselves.
It was only recently a contact in the country told them where Kevin’s body was being stored.
His warehouse manager brother Adam Little, 35, of North End, said: ‘Not knowing what happened is really hard. We’re thinking was it something malicious? Did he fall over and bump his head? It could be any one of a million things.’
Their agony has been buffered by the outpouring of support from the community, including from the Derby Tavern’s regulars, who have raised more than £2,000 to bring Kevin, who was single, home to Portsmouth.
Wendy added: ‘If it wasn’t for the people around here and my kids I don’t know what I’d do. Everyone around here has been amazing.
‘Everyone around here is just a massive big family, it’s unbelievable.’
They hope the fundraising will mean Kevin, who was once honoured by Shanghai police for rescuing people from a burning building, can be brought home as soon as possible.
Repatriating Kevin could cost between £9,000 to £18,000 with other costs taking the figure higher, Adam said. His family had thought costs would be covered under his contract at work but this has not been the case.
Adam, who said his brother was his role model, added: ‘In a way we can see that (£25,000 is) almost an impossible amount to raise but if we can’t raise that amount then we can’t bring Kevin home.’
In a video on YouTube where his birthday celebration was live-streamed, Kevin was asked what he was looking forward to and said: ‘Enjoying my life a lot more, it’s the last year of the dirty 30s.’
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: ‘Our staff are supporting the family of a British man following his death in China, and are in contact with the Chinese police.’
To donate: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/adam-little-1