In a scene reminiscent of ’The Hunt For Red October’, a Barnardo’s charity shop is celebrating the perfect ending to the tale of nuclear submarine plans found hidden in a donated suitcase.
Bids for the cutaway plans of the £200m HMS Trafalgar, a hunter-killer sub, were received from as far away as America when they were put up for auction at the Barnardo’s Cymru Porthmadog shop.
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 Welsh 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 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.
Tara said: “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.”