New interactive gravestones help families remember loved ones

21 September 2012

A new interactive gravestone, dubbed the iTomb, was launched today to help people remember their loved ones with videos and pictures when they visit the graveside.

A solar powered iPad, embedded in the gravestone, will enable family members to upload and view video and images and even play one of their departed loved one’s favourite songs,whenever they visit the grave. People can also record a special video message to be played by their gravestone after their death.

Designed by Ken Howe of East Lancashire’s Stone Essentials, the iTomb is the brainchild of Remember a Charity, a consortium of over 140 UK charities which encourages more people to leave gifts to good causes in their Wills.

Rob Cope of Remember A Charity said, “We want to encourage people to think about how they are remembered and what they leave behind in order to get them thinking about leaving a gift to charity in their Wills. If a person does leave a gift to charity, the iTomb allows them to upload pictures and videoswhich show the work which can continue thanks to their gift.

Each year, gifts in Wills bring in almost £2 billion, the equivalent of 19 Comic Reliefs, and account for 30% of the income of the UK’s top 10 charities. Two out of three guide dogs are funded by gifts in Wills, as are 6 out of 10 lifeboat launches.

“We think it could really catch on,” said Rob Cope. “It’s probably not for everyone, but many people feel closest to their departed loved one when they actually visit the grave. We think photos, video and even music can enhance this experience.”

The iTomb is among a number of unusual recent commissions for Ken Howe, a stonemason for 30 years, who has made a headstone in the shape of Bart Simpson, a magpie for the grave of a Newcastle United fan and even a Transit van for the grave of a traveller. The iTomb follows the trend for gravestones which use technology to share information about the deceased person. A Dorset undertaker recently launched a gravestone which uses a Quick Response code to open a webpage with a biography of the deceased on mobile phones.

The iTomb was launched to help mark Remember a Charity Week. During Remember A Charity Week, 140 charities will be holding local community events across the UK such as raffles, cake bakes and tea mornings, and almost 3,000 charity shops will be supporting the campaign with special events.

A wide range of celebrities will also be backing the week including Dame Judy Dench and Jeremy Irons.The Week also sees the launch of a new yellow plaques scheme recognising the huge contribution made to charities by people who leave gifts in their Wills. Some of Britain’s best loved and most important charities such as Cancer Research UK, ChildLine, Guide Dogs were among the first to be awarded plaques for projects and initiatives that would not have been possible without gifts in Wills.