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Relative's lasting honour for hero

PUBLISHED: 15:01 10 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:02 12 August 2010

REMEMBERED: Sheila at the Belgian graveside.

REMEMBERED: Sheila at the Belgian graveside.

A WOMAN related to a soldier who died in the Great War has won her three-year campaign to regenerate an ailing memorial. Sheila Dartnell,

Sheila’s great uncle Chris was just 21 when he died in battle in Belgium in 1917.

A WOMAN related to a soldier who died in the Great War has won her three-year campaign to regenerate an ailing memorial.

Sheila Dartnell, from Chatterton Village, in Bromley, has been campaigning since 2007 for conservation work to be carried out on Stockwell War Memorial which bears the name of her great-uncle Christopher Dartnell who died aged just 21.

Lance Corporal Dartnell, of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, 6th Battalion, was killed in action on October 16, 1917, and is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery in Belgium.

After travelling to Ieper, Belgium, to visit his grave she tracked down the memorial and was horrified to find the 564 names of fallen soldiers were being worn away.

The legal secretary, 58, said: "The cemetery out in Belgium was really well maintained and monitored but when I visited the memorial, the soldiers' names were eroding.

"It seemed that abroad their graves were being really well looked after but the memorial where they actually came from was not."

She approached Lambeth council to urge them to carry out repair work but they claimed the Grade II listed structure was not their responsibility.

But with the help of charity Not Forgotten and its chairman Tony Arbour AM, she researched the history of the memorial and found that the deeds were handed to the council in 1922.

Now, Lambeth council has agreed to earmark £30,000 to renovate the memorial during regeneration work in the area due to start this summer.

Ms Dartnell added: "It was frustrating when people would not take responsibility for the memorial but I wasn't going to give up.

"It has taken a long time and a lot of work but I did it for all of the nearly 600 names on the memorial. A lot of men from the area lost their lives, one was only 14 and it is important to look after the future of our history as a nation."

Lambeth councillor Rachel Heywood, cabinet member for culture and communities, said: "Restoring the memorial is a real priority for the council and we hope that work will be able to start sometime this summer."

The funding has come as part of a planning agreement with a nearby housing scheme at 17/19 Stockwell Green. Money should be available when the project is complete and housing occupied by July this year."

Go to www.stockwellwarmemorial.co.uk for more information about the memorial.

kate.mead@archant.co.uk

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