Grave task has a happy conclusion

Seafield Crematorium, Edinburgh Team Leaders Garry Whyte and Richie Thomson repair the last damaged stone in the crematorium.
Seafield Crematorium, Edinburgh Team Leaders Garry Whyte and Richie Thomson repair the last damaged stone in the crematorium.
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A CEMETERY has been returned to its former glory after the restoration of hundreds of fallen gravestones.

The last of the 640 fallen headstones at Seafield Cemetery was re-erected by staff yesterday after the stones fell into disrepair or were laid on the ground for health and safety reasons. Team leaders at the crematorium, Richard Thomson and Garry Whyte, have been involved in the project to resurrect the stones since it started in January 2009.

The project, which cost more than £50,000, saw the stones being given new concrete bases and foundations to ensure there is no chance of them falling down.

Jim Nickerson, general manager of Edinburgh Crematorium, said: “Some of the headstones had just fallen over with time because they were old, but the Health and Safety Executive also laid out that any headstones which were unsafe and could fall should be laid flat.

“We decided to train up some staff and whenever they had time between jobs, they put the headstones back up.”

As many of the headstones were more than 100 years old, the majority of families whose relatives the stones belonged to have now passed away. But the handful of families who are still living were said to be “over the moon” that the headstones had been restored.

Mr Nickerson said he felt “a sense of satisfaction” when the final headstone was resurrected yesterday.

“The headstones lying flat made the place look untidy and uncared for,” he said. “I think the guys doing the work will be a bit disappointed now it’s finished because they enjoyed the challenge.”

The move has been welcomed by local people and visitors, with the work dramatically improving the appearance of the cemetery.

Mr Thomson said: “On average we have been putting up ten headstones in a day. Some of the headstones had been snapped in half and we managed to fix them by putting pins in them.

“It’s just brilliant for the families coming into the cemetery because they can see that people care and we have taken time out to do it.”