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Stansted Parish Council changes rules on headstone photos after twin sister's plea over her brother's memorial



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"Different times" mean grieving relatives can now include photos of loved ones on headstones at the parish council's cemetery in Stansted.

The council changed the regulations for its cemetery in Church Road after a woman whose twin brother had died was distraught when told she could not include a picture on his headstone.

Kirsty Ellis, 27, from Stansted, had ordered a headstone with a 9cm x 12cm (3.5in x 4.7in) photo of brother Ryan, from Stansted, who died in 2017 aged just 23.

Ryan Ellis, centre, with twin sister Kirsty and younger brother Dylan (49955995)
Ryan Ellis, centre, with twin sister Kirsty and younger brother Dylan (49955995)

She said: "Ryan was a charming, kind man who was well known in the community and loved by many. I thought this would be a lasting memorial to my brother for family and friends."

When she was told photos were not allowed she accused the parish council of a lack of empathy. A headstone without the photo was placed at the grave.

Parish clerk Ruth Clifford told the Indie the process meant she had not been in contact with Kirsty as the stonemason puts in the application and he had been informed of the regulation.

The headstone without a photo on Ryan Ellis' grave (49955987)
The headstone without a photo on Ryan Ellis' grave (49955987)

Ruth became aware of the distress caused when Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch contacted her on Kirsty's behalf asking if any exception could be made.

Ruth said that clause 55.6 of the rules and regulations for memorials had been brought in around 20 years ago after some parishioners were upset about a headstone with an image etched into it.

"It was something new in the cemetery and people found it quite disturbing," said Ruth. So the council amended its regulations meaning photos were not allowed.

But at a meeting of the council's open spaces committee the regulation was changed and Kirsty's photo would be allowed.

Ryan Ellis tragically died in 2017, aged just 23
Ryan Ellis tragically died in 2017, aged just 23

"There are criteria with constraints on size, but what Kirsty wanted is allowed," said Ruth.

"We live in very different times. We've listened, we've heard and decided in this day and age we should be getting up with the times."

On hearing the news, a delighted Kirsty said: "That's brilliant – it just seemed so outdated and pretty cold."

She said that it had taken the family a while to raise the money for the headstone and she was a little frustrated it would have to be taken down and the photo added. But she said it was "a positive outcome".



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