Trafalgar Heroes' graves to be rescued

The Trafalgar bicentenary is ending on a high note for the 1805 Club, which has been given the go-ahead to start conservation work on graves of the captains who served with Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson at the battle.

This has been made possible through more than £11,000 in grant aid donated to the Club by three separate charitable trusts towards its Trafalgar Captains' Memorial Project.

As a result, it is hoped that work can start by the end of the year on the tomb of Lt John Richards Lapenotière at Menheniot Parish Church in Cornwall.

It was Lapenotière who delivered Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood's historic dispatch from Cape Trafalgar to the Admiralty in London giving the bittersweet news of victory in the decisive battle and the death of Nelson.

The only organisation that conserves monuments and memorials relating to Lord Nelson and seafarers from the Georgian era, the club embarked on the two year captains' research project as its major contribution towards the battle's 200th anniversary.

The project located and recorded the graves and memorials of the 38 captains and lieutenants, all potentially forgotten heroes, who commanded the ships at the battle alongside Nelson. The memorials were discovered across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and as far afield as Malta, Greece and Italy.

Seven of the graves were identified as potentially at risk - with Lapenotière's being the one most in need of urgent attention - so the club sought funding from other outside charitable trusts.

Thanks to the grants totalling £6,000 from the Leche Trust and Manifold Trust, the club has earmarked £5240 towards the conservation of the grave in Cornwall, the remainder of the money being allocated to one of the other "at risk" graves.

Another £5,452 was granted by the Francis Coales Charitable Foundation, whose express wish was that the funds were used for the conservation of the grave of Capt Thomas Dundas of the frigate HMS Naiad whose memorial is at St Nicholas Church at Hurst near Reading.

Peter Warwick, Chairman of the 1805 Club, believes: "This is a marvellous way to end the Trafalgar bicentenary year. The extremely generous donations from the Leche and Manifold Trusts and the Francis Coales Charitable Foundation allow us to conserve the tombs of two very contrasting captains at the Battle.

"Lapenotière became a pivotal figure in the story with his extraordinary journey by sea and land to deliver news of the battle and Nelson from Cape Trafalgar to the Admiralty in London.

"Dundas was one of the less well-known but nevertheless brave men who was with Nelson at the Battle. He and his ship played a very important intelligence and communications role at the battle, which was of vital support to the battleships engaged in the fighting.

Peter added: "We are also impressed at the way the Trafalgar Captains' Memorial Project has caught the imagination of so many people and we hope they will come to regard the captains as their own local heroes."

To accompany the project, a book "The Trafalgar Captains, Their Lives and Memorials" was published this year (2005) giving details of the research and recording of the monuments and telling the remarkable stories of each of the men.