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From the organisers of

Grave Concerns: Selling direct is not the only problem

2 June 2015
David Francis sasy local authorities selling direct to the bereaved is not the only problem memorial masons face.

Councils are seriously looking at selling memorials directly to the general public.

When local authorities make up their minds it is difficult to change them, but it is always worth making your case, checking that the Mayor and councillors are fully aware of the situation and have been shown how it will effect employment or even the survival of companies.

I know, from experience, that lobbying, writing letters and contacting the local MP can help. The place to start is with the committee of local councillors who are responsible for cemeteries. Who they are is easy to find out from the council and writing to each is also easy – just take the letters to the town hall, they will do the rest.

But local authorities are not the only threat to memorial masons. Cemeteries, especially in urban areas, are running out of space and it is difficult to re-use graves or get an area designated for a new cemetery.

Even the source of stone can be a matter of concern. Most memorials are imported these days, usually from China or India, where health & safety considerations can be scant.

There is little memorial masons can do about the quality of life of Indian and Chinese quarry workers, or, indeed, the rest of the chain that brings the materials to our premises? But these are important questions we should look at in the context of our work.

David Francis is a hands-on mason who ran a craft-based business in South London for many years. He moved out of London in the 1990s and since then has been concentrating on memorial masonry, being Technical Advisor and Trainer for the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) for several years, writing training manuals and City & Guild Qualifications. He has now left NAMM but would like to continue to advise and assist masons to help and improve skills in the sector.

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