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Home   Sheerness   News   Article

Sheppey publican Duane Ashworth backs Victoria Cross Trust campaign to restore neglected graves of British war heroes

16 March 2014
by Emma Grove

Duane Ashworth was made a trustee of the Victoria Cross Trust after his son, L/Cpl James Ashworth, became the most recent recipient of the medal.

The 23-year-old was posthumously awarded the country’s highest military honour after he died serving with 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in Afghanistan in June 2012.

A before and after picture of a grave the VC Trust has restored

A before and after picture of a grave the VC Trust has restored

Duane, who runs The Beach pub in Minster, is part of a crusade, which was started by a national newspaper on Monday, to raise funds for the trust.

It was set up in October 2011 to restore the graves of VC heroes across the country as many of them are neglected.

There are 548 in the UK and almost 300 of them need maintenance work as they are not protected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

James Ashworth

James Ashworth

Kent has 29 and several need to be looked at. The trust concentrates on the most neglected ones first.

Sometimes there are no living relatives, or their remaining family can not afford to maintain them, and the trust wants to raise money so all the recipients of the medal can be properly honoured and remembered.

It can cost anything from £2,000 to £25,000 to restore one grave.

Duane Ashworth with wife Caroline, when they picked up the Victoria Cross

Duane Ashworth with wife Caroline, when they picked up the Victoria Cross

Mr Ashworth, 45, admits that, before his son died, he had no idea the graves were not maintained and assumed there was a group responsible for it.

He said: “If in 80 years’ time James’ grave was in the condition of some of those we go round, I would be devastated. There are some graves which no one knows who they belong to.

“It’s a long [restoration] process because we have to locate the graves and then find out who owns them – whether it’s the church or local council or privately owned.

“It’s a form of neglect and this is about restoring history as well as stone and marble.

“And it’s not just about the graves – it’s also about educating people about what these guys did.

“They are national heroes and should be treated as such.

“The response on Sheppey has been pretty good and I hope people will really get behind the cause.”

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