Greyfriars Bobby memorial fixed thanks to charitable act

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The gravestone of Greyfriars Bobby’s master has been restored thanks to a surprise act of philanthropy by a local funeral director.

Vandals had knocked the headstone of John “Auld Jock” Gray, the beloved master of the legendary Greyfriars Bobby, to the ground last weekend.

Stone Masons from William Purves funeral directors position the headstone of Bobby's master. Picture Jon Savage.

Stone Masons from William Purves funeral directors position the headstone of Bobby's master. Picture Jon Savage.

The memorial was left face down in the Greyfriars Kirkyard mud in Edinburgh.

READ MORE: Vandals topple headstone of Greyfriars Bobby’s master

It had been assumed Mr Gray’s headstone would not be mended in time for a ceremony tomorrow honouring the life of Greyfriars Bobby, with Edinburgh City Council unable to repair the damage until a later date.

But at the final hour, Edinburgh funeral director William Purves has stepped in to save the day after reading about the act of vandalism.

Tim Purves, chairman at the Edinburgh firm, said: “We have a memorial department that specialises in erecting headstones.

“I contacted the council and asked if we can do this and told them we wouldn’t charge anything.

“They were obviously in an unfortunate position that they were unable to do it this week. We were just delighted to help.”

Mr Purves added: “For the people attending this service on Sunday, I just felt it wasn’t ideal to have this stone lying face down.”

Mr Purves and a small team of masons arrived just after noon yesterday to carry out the surprise repair.

They drilled out the damaged original pins in the headstone and base before replacing them with new ones made of heavy duty steel.

An hour later, the memorial was standing upright, fixed in the nick of time for the ceremony.

George Robinson, organiser of this weekend’s memorial ceremony, said “It’s better than brilliant. It’s terrific a local company coming to the aid of the dog and his master. It couldn’t be better.”

Steve Lister, operations manager at Greyfriars Kirkyard, was equally delighted.

“We’re very grateful to Mr Purves for coming to the rescue like this,” he said.

“It’s a really nice gesture to fix the headstone in time for Sunday and also for the benefit of all the tourists that come here throughout the year.”

Mr Gray was a night watchman with Edinburgh City Police in the 1850s and owned Bobby, the loyal Skye terrier.

The Greyfriars Bobby ceremony marks 146 years since the faithful dog’s death.

Special guest speakers at the public event include Mr Ludwik Jaszcur, who fought in World War Two at the Battle of Monte Cassino alongside another famous animal with an Edinburgh connection in Wojtek the Bear.