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WHAT A HEARSE; EXCLUSIVE Gravestone boss greets grieving families with RIP registration plate.

Byline: By GAYLE RITCHIE

A GRAVESTONE firm boss visits bereaved families in a van with the registration plate R1P CU.

Bill McDonald, 50, reckons the humorous "rest in peace...see you" message comforts those who have lost loved ones.

But the personalised number has shocked some mourners and undertakers.

McDonald, boss of Forget Thee Not Memorials in Dunblane, insists most customers are not offended.

He said: "The registration plate brings a smile to people's faces and it reflects that death is not all doom and gloom.

"The RIP text offers solace and the CU gives hope to mourners that they will see their loved ones again. Most people have reacted positively. They understand my intentions are to offer solace.

"The plate is an undertaker's dream. The registration R1P caught my eye and the CU seemed so fitting.

"I'm often followed by folk wanting to take photos of the plate and several people have offered to buy it."

McDonald, who runs the firm with wife Julie, bought the personalised number when he set up the company in 2005. He paid less than pounds 800 but reckons it is now worth pounds 9000.

He added: "We do everything we can for bereaved families. We'll drop everything to go out and see someone, at midnight or midday."

Adam Heath, of the National Association of Funeral Directors, said the number did not break any rules but added: "This plate doesn't seem in the best taste. I wouldn't encourage anyone to follow this example.

"It's not a disciplinary matter. Customers can choose whether to use Mr McDonald's services or that of the bloke down the road who takes things more seriously."

McDonald sparked controversy when he lodged a planning application for a 'shop' at St Thomas' Cemetery in Cambusbarron, near Stirling.

He made a similar application for a commercial "display area" at Bannockburn Cemetery.

Council planners recommended approving the Bannockburn plan but it was refused amid concerns about sensitivity.

Community councillor Terry Barlow said: "Anyone who drives a car with the registration number R1P CU should not be successful in an application."

McDonald said: "Some folk might find the idea of a commercial outlet within a cemetery uncomfortable but this is the 21st century. We are always looking for opportunities to expand."

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CAPTION(S):

Number of the deceased: Gravestone boss Bill McDonald says his van's personalised plate sends a positive message and cheers up mourners; Tomb boom: Joker Bill; Dead funny: Plate on Bill's van
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 27, 2008
Words:417
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