Art Stone, a local business which specialises in creating and renovating graveside memorials across the Midlands, is offering to step in and lay wreaths and flowers on the graves of loved ones whose families cannot visit this Christmas due to Covid restrictions.

Art Stone Memorials celebrates its 10th anniversary this December.  It was set up by stonemason Oleksandr Burlaka who leads a team of three craftsmen at their workshop in Drakelow alongside showrooms in Stapenhill and Alvaston.

The business is now part of the family-owned Wathall’s group of funeral directors who have branches in Derby, Burton, Ashbourne, Alvaston and Borrowash and are Derby’s longest established independent funeral directors having been established in 1858.

The Art Stone Memorials team regularly work at local cemeteries, graveyards and crematoria where they install a range of individually-designed memorials as well as carrying out cleaning, additional inscription and specialist renovation work.

They are offering to use this local knowledge to check on graves and lay flowers and wreaths if family and friends are unable to visit this Christmas.

Helen Wathall MBE is the managing director and fifth generation of her family to run Wathall’s funeral directors.

She explained: “Christmas is a time when families tend to come together and make an annual pilgrimage to a loved one’s grave or cremation memorial but that is going to be difficult for many this year due to the pandemic.

“I think in particular there will be many older people who live either locally or further afield but who are unable or nervous about venturing out and particularly travelling this Christmas.

“Also, families who have moved away from home are far less likely to be travelling long distances and will no doubt be concerned that their loved one’s grave has been left unattended.

“We are therefore happy to hear from families who may want us to simply check on the grave, do a spot of tidying up or want to deliver a wreath or flowers to our showrooms so that we can place them on their behalf.

“We will be putting messages out on the Art Stone Memorials and Wathall’s social media Facebook and Twitter pages and I hope that this will provide families with some comfort at what can be a difficult time of year to cope with grief.”