Headstone not arrived from March stonemason - despite being paid for almost a year ago

Kent Memorials has not supplied a headstone for John Ellis despite it being paid for in full in Febr

Kent Memorials has not supplied a headstone for John Ellis despite it being paid for in full in February 2016 - Credit: Archant

A March stonemason took more than £2,000 for a headstone which he has still not delivered - nearly a year later.

Kent Memorials has not supplied a headstone for John Ellis despite it being paid for in full in Febr

Kent Memorials has not supplied a headstone for John Ellis despite it being paid for in full in February 2016 - Credit: Archant

John Ellis said he paid Gary Manning £2,065 in February 2016 for a double headstone for his wife and also for him when he dies.

He said: “As I live in York I’ve been trying to ring Gary Manning and there has been no answer the phone just goes over to answer phone.

“When I paid him he said he would have the edge to within three months and it still has not turned up on my wife’s grave.

“My wife Janet Ellis was at her twin sister’s in March when she was rushed into hospital at Huntingdon with double pneumonia where she later died.

Kent Memorials shop in March

Kent Memorials shop in March - Credit: Archant

“So this has not just come in the last three months I’ve been waiting for nearly a year for Janet’s headstone.

“When I last spoke to Gary Manning about four months ago he said please be patient I’ve just had the worst trading year I’ve ever had, you will get your headstone.”

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Mr Ellis was promised the headstone before Christmas but it has still not arrived.

The daughter of another customer, Kelly Rose, said: “This man has conned a lot of people out of their money and savings and played on and with their emotions.

“Gary took peoples money know full well he could not fulfil their orders and leaving them heartbroken.

“My mum is one of these people who he took cash from in November 2016, she’s still waiting for my dad’s headstone and can’t order another from elsewhere as Gary has any money she saved.

“I have spoken to many people through Facebook who are in similar situation and been fobbed off by Gary with petty excuses like he broke up with his girlfriend, he’s a one man band because his receptionist left, he has a tax bill.

“Maybe a more interesting story would be now to get the story of the innocent people who can no longer contact Gary and believe me I have tried via all means.

“I am a reasonable person I have offered him a meeting, all messages have been civil. I was willing to help Gary with contacting people, free of charge to sort mess out and to let people know where they stand.

“I’m all for supporting local businesses which is why my mum choose Kent’s in the first place rather than Co-op but surely you have a duty to print the truth and the truth is Kent’s is an unsafe business, stay well clear.

“Do not trust this man with your orders and money.”

Ann Russo told how she paid a £1,000 deposit in September 2016 towards a £3,505 headstone that was supposed to be ready before Christmas.

She said two weeks ago alarm bells rang after being promised the work, hearing nothing, calling again and being told a workman had walked out, then discovering the shop was not open.

Ann said: “I’m angry but also heartbroken. It is a lot of money to find again.

“First I was told it would be ready for Christmas, then just after Christmas, it felt like being fobbed off.

“I went to Wisbech and the unit was closed but the unfinished work all still in there.

“I work as a carer and had only gone back to work again on December 14 as I’d looked after my mum for two years in the run up to her dying. “I’m now working like a donkey to try to get that deposit money back.”

A spokesman for Fenland District Council confirmed that Kent Memorials owed them money and they were working with him in order to try to recover it.

In a post on a Facebook page, Gary Manning said: “I would like to publicly apologise to those who have recently experienced unsatisfactory service, during what is already a difficult them and their families.

“Unfortunately the company has been facing some financial strain after a heavy tax bill was enforced, and had to be settled using both the floating assets of the company and personal savings.

“This has the company struggling to turn over a profit in the last few months. Every effort is being taken to ensure customer orders can still be completed asap.

“It has been with great regret that the company has been struck down in this way, and full admission of these taxes could have been accounted for better, however the sheer degree of miscalculation was not picked up on by the Inland Revenue until such point it had become a vast amount detrimental to the usual flow rate of the business.

“All of my customers will be contacted in the coming days to discuss their orders in more detail and to give progress updates on their respective orders.

“Please all accept my sincere apologies for the lack of contact, I’ve desperately been trying to sort all this out behind closed doors.”

• Costs of a permit for each headstone in FDC cemeteries is:

Single memorial headstone not exceeding 3 ft high - child £138, on single plinth for adult £164, on double plinth for adult 250.

Double memorial headstone not exceeding 3 ft high on double plinth - adult £335.

Kerb set and/or flatstone child plot 6 ft x 3 ft £138.

Kerb set and/or flatstone adult plot single - £305.

Kerb set &/or flatstone adult plot double - £590.

Single vase - not exceeding 10” in diameter and 8” in height £70.

Single tablet - 18” x 18” with or without vase on any single grave or cremation plot £180.