Today, we launch a fund-raising campaign to secure a lasting memorial to Grantham man Ronnie Ward, whose funeral will take place next week.
Ronnie – easily recognisable by his multi-coloured Mohican-style headwear – died in June last year, and seven months on the district council has stepped in to fund a funeral service.
As it is funded by the taxpayer, the service the local authority will provide is a simple cremation and does not allow for any lasting tribute.
That’s where we – and you, our readers – step in. We hope to raise enough money to pay for either a 10.5cm x 7cm bronze plaque on the granite book by Grantham Crematorium Chapel, at a cost of £702, or a dedicated rose bush and plaque for Ronnie, which would cost £2,476.
Anyone who wishes to contribute is asked to visit our JustGiving page. Cash donations can also be made at the Journal office, in St Peter’s House, St Peter’s Hill. Any donations received once the £2,476 target has been reached will go to the Salvation Army in Grantham.
Marie Bond, Journal deputy editor, said: “When we reported last week that Ronnie’s body remains in the mortuary at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, seven months after his death, several readers got in touch to ask how they could help towards his send-off.
“As there would otherwise be no lasting memorial to Ronnie, we decided the most appropriate way to help readers make a difference is to fund-raise for a plaque that will bear his name.
“This way, he will be remembered for many years to come.”
Ronnie was a well-known character in Grantham. He could often be seen strolling through the town centre wearing his colourful Mohican-style headwear and sunglasses.
Before its closure, Ronnie was a regular visitor to South Lincolnshire Mind, in Westgate, Grantham, a centre for people with mental health problems.
He would also regularly visit the Salvation Army.
A funeral service will take place at the crematorium chapel on Friday, February 10, at 9am. Arrangements are being made by Robert Holland Funeral Directors.
Funeral manager Andy Clark said everyone is welcome – and they are urged to wear bright, colourful clothing in tribute to Ronnie. He added: “Robert [Holland] is taking the funeral service. He knew Ronnie and classes it as an honour to take it for him.
“He met Ronnie on a number of occasions and said he brightened everyone’s lives.
“The service will be a celebration of his life and everyone is welcome.”
Meanwhile, a kind donation by Sue Hodgson, of Flowers by Holland, will see that Ronnie’s coffin is not bare. Sue will make a floral arrangement to resemble his Mohican hat, in all the same colours.
Andy said: “She would see him walking past and he always brought a smile to her face.”
Before going ahead with Ronnie’s funeral, South Kesteven District Council had to obtain consent from his family.
A spokesman said: “We have now gained the consent we needed from Mr Ward’s family to make arrangements for his funeral.
“Donations made through funeral directors Robert Holland will contribute to the funeral costs.”
* To make a contribution towards a lasting tribute to Ronnie, please visit our JustGiving page.