- When a friend from Facebook posted a photo of a deceased family member’s gravestone which was weather-worn, Ryan decided to do his labor of love.
- Running his own cleaning company, Ryan offered to clean it up for free.
- And since then, he has been cleaning headstones with the help of his kids.
A 37-year-old father and his three kids from Winsford, Cheshire, England have been spending their lockdown days cleaning neglected headstones in their local cemeteries.
It was already a month ago when the lockdowns started due to the COVID-19 pandemic and since then, Ryan van Emmenis has taken it on his shoulders to do the labor of love taking advantage of his free time.
It all started when his friend posted a photo on Facebook of their family member’s headstone which was noticeably dirty and worn. Inspired, Ryan—who manages his own cleaning company—offered to clean the headstone for free.
So in one of his daily walks to town, he brought his cleaning materials with him and side tracked to clean the tombstone. After he was done with it, he was amazed at how much better it actually looked.
That’s when he decided to add the task of cleaning gravestones to his daily walks. His kids also pitched in to help and they have already cleaned more than two dozen markers in two cemeteries, the St. Chad’s and Swanlow Park.
“You’ve got to be respectful of the fact that it’s someone’s family member, it’s someone’s memories. You’ve got to make sure you’re using the right products and you’re being careful and delicate with it,” Ryan told the Press Association News Agency. “Some of these headstones I’m cleaning are over 100 years old—and algae, moss etc. can have a really negative impact on them so you’ve got to be really careful.”
Ryan posted pictures of his works in social media and he was flooded with appreciation from his neighbors and strangers. While the family members of the deceased whose tombstone he’s cleaned are very grateful for his labor of love.
“I had some feedback from people saying they were really grateful for what I’d done because it was family members and they hadn’t visited the grave for 20 years, they’d been unable too,” Ryan said. “Someone used the term ‘you’re bringing memories back to people.’”
Recently, Ryan partnered with a vicar to decide which grave markers needed cleaning. He also said that those who want to do the same but without professional experience can just use water and soap.
Source: Good News Network