Huge Yorkshire headstone weighing 37 tonnes may need to be torn down after council revealed it was built without permission Yorkshire News

The massive marble monument was created to honor boxer Willy, a father of nine, who died aged 49 after collapsing while on holiday with his family in Mallorca in July 2020.

It is believed that his family may have paid £200,000 to create the headstone in Shiregreen Cemetery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, which is made from solid Carrara marble.

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But today (March 20), council chiefs revealed that the tombstone had been erected “without permission”, meaning it may need to be demolished in the future.

The huge tombstone was unveiled on Thursday (March 17)

Cllr Alison Teal, Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellness, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield Council, said: “We are aware of a large monument that has been erected in Shiregreen Cemetery.

“This monument was built without permission and we are currently considering our next steps.”

The giant tombstone, which opened just four days ago (March 17), has depictions of Jesus Christ and biblical scenes, plus a solar-powered jukebox that plays Big Willy’s favorite songs.

Mourners can also connect to the speaker via Bluetooth to play their own songs while viewing two six-foot frame and two Big Willy life-size statues.

The tombstone is illuminated with color changing LED lights.

He is also under 24-hour CCTV monitoring, which his family can also access on their phones and use to “talk” to him.

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Willy Collins: Traveling King’s 37-ton tombstone in Yorkshire makes headlines…

But in his statement, Cllr Teal made it clear that there were strict planning laws governing the size and dimensions of the tombs.

She said: “All plans for funeral monuments must be submitted to council and must receive the approval of Bereavement Services before they are erected.”

“For submissions, applicants must provide various details, including the material and size of the monument, the proposed inscription, and a sketch.

“A monument must be less than 75mm thick and no more than 1.35m high from ground level.

He added: “Cemeteries are a place where people can come, pay their respects and visit loved ones who are no longer with us.

“We understand that memorials are deeply personal, however we must have rules in place to ensure fairness.”

Willy’s daughter Mary Collins, 30, has previously dismissed suggestions that her family was concerned the headstone could be forcibly demolished in the future.

She had said: “We don’t worry since all the occupied plots are ours.

“We bought all the plots because it’s a family grave, so we’re not taking up more space than we should.

“From behind, all the plots are ours, but when someone dies, the tombstone starts at the head. We are not concerned, and it is well taken care of. We wash that road all the time. We have a lot of respect.

“My father’s grave is on a hill, so it has to be raised anyway. It is in line with other gravestones.”

But when asked to comment on the council’s new statement, he said a meeting with the local authority had now been arranged to discuss his future.

She said, “At the moment, there will be some kind of meeting on Monday, so on Monday we can discuss more.

“There are bigger headstones in that cemetery than that one. But there is literally nothing else we can discuss until Monday, when we have a board meeting.”

When the tombstone was unveiled last Thursday (March 17), Mary paid tribute to her father saying he was “the best father in the world”.

She said: “It’s a sad day, but it’s also a way to show the world what he meant to us.

“Our father was a family man and he means the world to us, he still means the world to us. We have given him everything we have and he deserves it.”

Willy, one of 16 children, was the patriarch of the Collins family. He apparently adored his children and grandchildren and had around 400 nieces and nephews.

After his death, tributes poured in from across the UK and from his hometown, where he was known by many as the “King of Sheffield”.

Mary said: “He loved Sheffield. He was as much a Sheffield man as he was an Irish man.

“If you met it once for five minutes, you would never forget it.

“Now we have a place where we can meet and talk about him and for others to remember him.

“He was my best friend. Not a day goes by that we don’t all think of him.”

Hundreds of mourners lined the streets of Sheffield last August for Big Willy’s funeral when his body was carried in a gold-plated coffin, which was transported by horse-drawn carriage.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-20 13:13:43

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