Man Devotes His Daily Walks During Lockdown to Cleaning Up Neglected Headstones

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Man Devotes His Daily Walks During Lockdown to Cleaning Up Neglected Headstones

An English father and his three kids are helping keep the memory of the past alive

There have been millions of acts of kindness and charity that have taken place since the coronavirus lockdown. People have donated their time and money, risked their lives, and used their creativity to help people in their community. When we are all in crisis we have a chance to see the best of our nature.

A man in Winsford, Cheshire has been spending his time cleaning neglected tombstones with his three children. 37-year-old Ryan van Emmenis, saw a photo that a friend posted of a relative's tombstone that had gone weather-worn and dirty. Mr. van Emmenis owns a cleaning company and offered to clean the tombstone for free. After the work was finished, he was astounded by how clean it looked.

Since then, he and his kids take 20 minutes out of their walk to clean other tombstones. They've already cleaned dozens in St. Chad’s and Swanlow Park cemeteries, his kids using soap and water while he uses industrial grade cleaners.

“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,” Emmenis 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.”

“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,” Emmenis told PA. “Someone used the term ‘you’re bringing memories back to people’.

“When a grave is dull and it’s got algae on it and you can’t read it, there’s nobody seems to give it much time if they don’t know the person,” he added. “Once you’ve cleaned up one of these graves, it’s really noticeable, which means people are stopping and taking a moment to read and remember these people.”

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