Fisherman gets angling themed graveside tribute at funeral
The “biggest headstone” in Britain may have to be torn down after it emerged that it had been built without permission.
The 37-tonne headstone, complete with a solar-powered jukebox, is constructed of Carrara marble to commemorate the life of bare-knuckle boxer Willy.
The father of nine passed away after collapsing on holiday in Majorca in July 2020 and has been remembered with the giant memorial.
Willy’s family is believed to have spent £200,000 creating the headstone situated in Shiregreen Cemetery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
But, there are fears for its future as council bosses say the headstone was put up “without permission” and may have to be demolished in the future.
Councillor Alison Teal, Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield council said: “We are aware of a large memorial which has been erected in Shiregreen Cemetery.
“This memorial was built without permission, and we are currently considering our next steps.”
Elsewhere on the giant memorial unveiled four days ago are depictions of Jesus, other biblical scenes and a jukebox playing some of Willy’s favourite songs.
Mourners can also connect to the speaker via Bluetooth in order to play their own songs while looking at the two life-sized statues of 6ft2 Willy.
Changing LED lights also adorn the headstone, while 24-hour CCTV allows the family to look at the headstone and even “speak” to Willy through the system.
But, councillor Teal explained: “All plans for grave memorials should be submitted to the council and must receive approval from Bereavement Services before they are erected.
“For submissions, applicants must provide several details, including the material and size of the memorial, the proposed inscription and a sketch.
“A memorial should be less than 75mm thick and no taller than 1.35m from ground level.”
Willy’s daughter, Mary Collins, spoke about the potential concerts, saying: “We don’t worry as all the plots taken up, we own.
“We bought all the plots as it’s a family grave, so we’re not taking over more space than it should be.
“From behind, all of the plots are ours, but when someone dies the headstone starts at the head. We’re not worried, and it’s well taken care of. We jet wash that road all the time. We have a lot of respect.
“My father’s grave is on a hill, so it has to be raised anyway. It’s in line with other headstones.”
The family are due to meet the local authority to discuss what can be done going forward.
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