Two funeral director brothers have been heralded for volunteering their time to clean up local cemeteries in East Lothian.
Jordan first became involved in the funeral industry as a piper after leaving the armed forces which he had joined as a teen.
He was later joined by his brother and the pair say that they enjoy the community spirit and ethos that underpins the delivery of funeral services.
But since starting their new roles, they noticed that some cemeteries were looking a touch worse for wear and they decided that they wanted to help the local authority, East Lothian Council, to maintain them.
Jordan says that they have no interest in criticising a council that they work alongside every day and that he says “are having to dig around ten burial plots.”
Instead the brothers have focused their efforts on being proactive and using their weekends to clean up graveyards where many of their clients have been buried in the recent past.
Jordan added that this shows their commitments to looking after their customers and their families even when they are placed in their eternal resting place.
On taking it upon themselves to clean cemeteries in Ormiston, Tranent and Musselburgh, Jordan said: “It is just a thing that we started to do on our weekends in order to give back to our community.
“People often complain online about the state of cemeteries but we thought rather than complain, we wanted to get involved.
“It is rewarding for us and does not take a lot of work to be honest. It involves a bit of general tidying up, cutting weeds back and cleaning graves.
“Some of the graves we look after are relatives of those we have served. We aim to look after people in their final moments, during their funeral and want to continue to do that in their final resting places.
“Family members will see us doing it and it highlights to the community that if we are cleaning up the graveyards, then it shows we will look after them during our day job.
“We have been messaged by a few elderly people in the community who maybe have mobility issues but want to help out, whether it is cleaning the grave of a loved one or helping in general. We will give them a lift up with us and it is good because maybe they don’t get the chance to socialise much.
“Our own family have been getting involved with our kids coming to help out as well.
“We think it is a good message for them, to understand what a cemetery is and to gain a belief that looking after your community and those around you is important.
“In the near future we are hoping to get around ten people together in order to clean up cemeteries weekly.
“M&F has also been extremely supportive with trying to get us some more heavy duty equipment like hedge trimmers.
“This is just something we do off our own back and are not looking for any money - even just hearing how grateful people are goes a long way and as I said, it is good for us.
“We like community work and the spirit around it. When we started this, we wanted to make a difference. Folk want to moan on posts but to get out there is important and it is just a couple of hours a week.
“The messages we have got are from people that are absolutely delighted and they say the cemeteries have not looked this good in years. A bit of TLC makes all the difference to people and the council are really grateful to.
“We work with them most days with burials and we understand how stretched they are at the moment, they are sometimes digging ten burial plots a day and it is difficult for them to get round everything.”
A member of the Musselburgh community noticed the brothers when they were out cleaning up graves and commended their work however felt that more funding should be made available so that the local council can maintain the spaces better.
He said: “I saw a guy working on a grave and assumed it was for a family member.
“Then he moved to another and then another. So I approached him, had a chat, thanked him and said I thought it was sad he had to do that.
“One important thing. I’m not having a go at the council or the councillors - I think they do a good job and I know a few of them personally and they are great guys.
“They’re struggling under huge pressure due to central funding cuts.
“This is a societal issue we need to address. Are graveyards sacrosanct and need to be protected from cuts? Or are we prepared to look after these places ourselves from now on?”
East Lothian Council was candid in the issues they are facing and as a local authority they admit their services are stretched but are doing everything they can to ensure the spaces are well looked after - especially as it comes into the winter season.
An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “Budgets for burial teams have been maintained in recent years - but there continue to be significant resourcing and staffing pressures.
“There has been a significant increase in the number of burials and Amenity Services have worked to prioritise these whilst facing staff absences and vacancies.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Amenity Services teams worked incredibly hard to maintain services and focus on critical activities.
“It is recognised that we are at the height of the growing season and teams will do their best to cut grass and maintain cemetery grounds and provide the highest possible standard of service in the face of current challenges.”
Both Jordan and Daniel have said that those looking to join them in their clean up efforts can do so by contacting M&F through their Facebook page here.
M&F caters predominantly to those requiring funeral services in East Lothian but can also accommodate those further afield if required.
You can find out more about the business by visiting their website here.