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Perfect ending for “secret” plans found in Barnardo’s charity shop

A Barnardo’s charity shop is celebrating the perfect ending to the tale of the nuclear submarine plans found hidden in a donated suitcase.

map of hms trafalgar

(Image: Daily Post)

Bids for the cutaway plans of the £200m HMS Trafalgar were received from as far away as America when they were put up for auction at Barnardo’s Cymru’s Porthmadog shop in North Wales.

But they will be making their permanent home with Mark Rice, a submariner for 26 years who served aboard the sub as a Warrant Officer II electrical engineer from 2007 until it was decommissioned in 2009.

It was bought for him as a surprise present by his partner Tara Burke who rang the Porthmadog shop every day during the five day auction and managed to place the winning bid of £320 with just one minute to spare – by dashing into motorway services to make the call.

Mark, who now works as a project manager in Suffolk, was overwhelmed by the gesture.

“I had read the story about the plans being discovered in a charity shop online and thought it was amazing. I hadn’t said anything to Tara so when she said she had bought them for me I couldn’t believe it.

“I joined the Royal Navy when I was 16 and spent my whole career on submarines, serving on five of the seven Trafalgar Class submarines so to get this is just amazing. I even went to the decommissioning of this particular vessel.

“I spent a lot of my life away under water in Trafalgar and have a lot of fond memories. Now I just need to get it framed and find a wall big enough to put it as it’s six feet long!”

Tara said:

“Mark misses the Navy and I thought it was important to do something really special for him. Everyone in my office knew I was bidding and it caused plenty of excitement, people were even offering to contribute to ensure I got it! It’s brilliant that the money is going to Barnardo’s.”

The discovery sparked media coverage across the UK and abroad with even Russian television wanting to know more. The Ministry of Defence also showed an interest and confirmed that it was a training plan used until the submarine was decommissioned. Trafalgar was a key deterrent during the Cold War, patrolling under frozen ice caps.

Stella Parker, the Porthmadog shop manager who made the discovery, said:

“We have been overwhelmed by the interest. We even had an author of spy fiction from Colorado  bid for it but we couldn’t be more delighted that Tara has won it, it’s a lovely story with a happy ending.

“I took the plans to David Dickenson’s Real Deal and he said they were only worth £30 to £40 but I was determined to raise more money for Barnardo’s and to get this amount has been amazing. I’d say that’s a real deal!”

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