STONEMASONS travelled 1,500 miles to repay a debt of honour and bring a specially carved gravestone for supporters who helped them rebuild and restore their homeland after the war in Croatia.

Over 25 years ago the International Trust for Croatian Monuments was founded by Lady Jadranka Beresford-Peirse, of Bedale, to help repair the ancient and historic churches, cathedrals and historic places which had been damaged during the conflict in her native country.

With her husband, Sir Henry, and other backers, they helped get specialist training for young experts from Croatia, where they needed more stonemasons and conservators.

The students have spent the years since repairing the damage done to their homeland and working to preserve Croatia’s important buildings.

Three years ago Sir Henry, the 6th Baronet died and Lady Jadranka approached stonemasons in Britain to create a memorial stone for the family plot in St Gregory’s church in Bedale.

“I had a lot of problems and didn’t even manage to get a quote,” said Lady Beresford Peirse. “So I asked them if they could help, and they have created a marvellous stone which fits in so well to the plot.

“Henry always thought it was so wonderful that they had come here and I know he would have been delighted,” she added.

Two of the original students Marin Barisic and Malic Palcok travelled from Split to Bedale with the stone to install it with the help of other Croatian stonemasons.

“We were very happy to do this for Sir Henry and for Lady Jadranka who have done so much for us, and for Croatian monuments. They have been many many times to see us,” said Mr Barisic.

Malik Palcok added: “We tried to keep the original design to go alongside the other graves, but to have some new elements.

“Coming here all those years ago completely changed the course of my career and it was the most valuable experience, we learned new skills and a new language and about computers.

“This means a great deal to come here because they helped us so much, it is an honour to do this for Lady Jadranka, and the family.”

The 750kg memorial stone was quarried from the island of Brac, known for providing stone for parts of the White House.