Stonemasons devise hi-tech way to honour a life

Darren Somerville (35) and his dad Derek Somerville (60) with a QR code displayed on a gravestone .  Picture: Sarah Standing (123197-8412)

Darren Somerville (35) and his dad Derek Somerville (60) with a QR code displayed on a gravestone . Picture: Sarah Standing (123197-8412)

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WALKING past gravestones, you may sometimes wonder what stories lay behind the names.

Now you’ll be able to find out if a new innovation from a family stonemason firm in Portsmouth takes off.

1/10/2012 (MOL)''Darren Somerville (35) and his dad Derek Somerville (60), owners of Somerville Stone based at Eastney Pumping Station in Henderson Road, Eastney. The company has recently started quick response codes (QR codes) on gravestones so people can scan them using their phones which will then take them to the QR Memories website, that will display information about the deceased person's life.''Pictured is: A close up of one of the QR codes on a piece of stone.''Picture: Sarah Standing (123197-4772)

1/10/2012 (MOL)''Darren Somerville (35) and his dad Derek Somerville (60), owners of Somerville Stone based at Eastney Pumping Station in Henderson Road, Eastney. The company has recently started quick response codes (QR codes) on gravestones so people can scan them using their phones which will then take them to the QR Memories website, that will display information about the deceased person's life.''Pictured is: A close up of one of the QR codes on a piece of stone.''Picture: Sarah Standing (123197-4772)

Somerville Stone has designed QR codes – barcodes read by mobile phones – that can be put on headstones so people can find out about the life of someone who has died on a website.

To make it work you need a mobile phone, which you use to scan the QR code.

It then sends you to a website that gives would feature information about the person submitted by their family and friends.

Darren Somerville, 35, who runs Somerville Stone, at Eastney Pumping Station, Eastney, with his dad Derek, 60, came up with the idea after he heard that someone in Poole had done the same thing.

Though Darren hasn’t had any buyers yet, he hopes the hi-tech idea will take off.

Darren, of New Road East, Copnor, said: ‘It brings our company up to date.

‘Technology is moving on so fast so you have to think of ways to keep up with it. This is a great piece of advanced technology.

‘It’s the beginning of a lot of things. I mentioned the QR codes to someone from the city council who popped in this week and they thought it was a great idea. The council isn’t tied to us though so it may run with the idea itself.

‘My dad wasn’t too keen at first and said “let’s wait another 20 years”.

‘But I thought, “why not get ahead of the game now?”. I think in years to come this will be the main way of remembering people.’

Customers can either have a QR code engraved in a headstone or have it put on a piece of glass, plastic, stainless steel or a sticky label which can be put on a headstone.

The code can also be put on a vase on a grave. The website – called qrmemories.co.uk – is owned by Somerville Stone and people can either have the information they post made private, which can be accessed using a password, or public.

‘The QR codes are not designed to replace messages that are already put on headstones by other stonemason businesses,’ Darren said.

‘They can be discreet and put in the corner of the headstone if people wanted. It’s just an extension of a tribute to someone’s life.’

The stonemason firm moved to Eastney three months ago after previously being based in Titchfield.

‘We believe we are the only stonemason firm in Portsmouth and one of only very few in the country doing this,’ Darren added.

‘This will give people a chance to find out more about others in their community. This idea was rolled out in America a few years back so we’re playing catch up.’

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