RECOVERING from an injury proved to be a hollow victory for a businessman.
Graeme Ramshaw was laid up with a hernia caused by lifting heavy stonework for a memorial firm when he came up with a new design to lighten the load by producting a new-style headstone.
Now the 47-year-old is to launch a new firm and aims to recruit a team of up 10 workers as his new lighter gravestones go into production.
The news comes after two years of work on the patent, with the paperwork approved just weeks ago.
Made from granite and stainless steel, the memorials are formed from tiles, with a void in the centre, reducing their weight by about a third, with a fully-stone marker measuring at about 250kg and Graeme’s about 70kg.
It would also be about £100 cheaper than traditional gravestones, which cost £500 to £600.
Graeme, who works as a fitter at Rolls-Royce in Pallion, already has the lease for the Featherbed Rock Cafe in Seaham, which is run by his wife Paula, 46, and daughter Aimee, 22.
He said: “We have a sample swatch and haven’t made a full one yet, but we’ve spoken to the parks department at Seaham Town Council and they were interested in it and it’s user-friendly in that it complies with health and safety and ticks all those boxes
“The design also meets the standards of the National Association of Memorial Masons.”
The idea came to Graeme, who lives in Dene House Road, Seaham, after he had an operation on a hernia caused by lifting stones during the four years he spent with Scott Memorials.
He has also won backing for his design from those in the trade.
The new company, Elite Memorials, will be based in Seaham and is being set up with the support of Business Link.
Graeme will be joined by brother Stephen, 51, who is an engineer, and will be a director of the company.
It will also produce a line of vases and stones used to mark where ashes of those cremated are buried.