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Funeral director restores landmark headstone

Edinburgh based William Purves stepped up at the last minute to repair the headstone of Greyfriars Bobby’s master ahead of a large memorial event in January 2018.

The repair was donated by funeral director firm William Purves when chairman, Tim Purves, heard City of Edinburgh Council would be unable to repair the stone for a memorial event to mark the 146th anniversary of John Gray’s death.

Tim, who is fifth generation of the Scottish family firm, contacted the Council to arrange a memorial repair in time for the anniversary event.

Tim said: “We’re delighted to share our specialist expertise for this well loved landmark.  Like many Edinburgh folk, I thought it would be a shame for the dignitaries to celebrate this anniversary around a broken headstone and knew we had the specialist expertise to help out.”

They are scheduled to donate their services to another of the capital’s almost-forgotten personalities, John McLeod, at a ceremony in February run by a local heritage association.

McLeod was an RSA artist whose painting of Bobby hangs in Greyfriars Kirk visitor centre but who was buried nearby without a headstone.

The legend of Greyfriars Bobby dates back to the late 19th Century.

The Skye terrier is said to have kept a constant guard over the grave of its owner John Gray, also known as Auld Jock, in Greyfriars Kirkyard for 14 years.

A memorial to the dog and his master’s grave are among the capital’s most visited landmarks.

News of the rescued stone prompted an international response with messages of thanks from tourists, dog lovers, residents, heritage groups and locals alike and was covered in the national and regional media.

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