A CAMPAIGN has been launched to restore the grave of an African slave buried in Bowness.

Embrace African Heritage, which was set up to promote African history, has started the JustGiving campaign to restore the headstone and surrounding garden of the grave belonging to Rasselas Belfield, who is buried in St Martin’s churchyard.

A plaque of remembrance will also be erected in his memory.

According to the group, Rasselas was bought in Africa from his mother by Major Taylor, who was from Bowness, in 1803 for the equivalent of around £5.

Rasselas spent his life as a servant and valet to the Taylor family and was eventually laid to rest in the local churchyard.

“Many of these servants were enslaved people and were not regarded as human beings in their own right,” said Nadia Fitzsimons, founder and director of Embrace African Heritage.

“Rasselas, however, was a bit different. Major Taylor’s views on slavery was that black people should be free.

"He valued their lives.

“In fact, the quality of Rasselas’ grave in Windermere indicates that he was more than just a mere servant.

"Rasselas was also a much loved part of the Taylor family.”

Embrace African Heritage also revealed they will soon be opening an African heritage centre in the North West and plan on collaborating with local, national, and international partners on several projects to educate and create leisure activities for everyone to enjoy and experience.

Embrace, whose main mission as an enterprise is to promote diversity and understanding of black history in the UK, will also produce original documentaries about walking in the footsteps of the slave trade in the UK.

“At Embrace African Heritage, we acknowledge we cannot change the past.,” said Ms Fitzsimons.

“What we can do is be a custodian to the stories of the African slave trade in the United Kingdom and the slaves’ lives that were impacted by it.

“We want to tell the untold stories of those who have lived and died.

“Together we can embrace one another’s cultures and celebrate their similarities and differences. Overall we want to acknowledge, embrace, educate and celebrate.”