Watch gravestone cleaner's before and after video of his "peaceful" and "satisfying" side hustle

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A tree surgeon is cleaning up after finding himself the perfect side hustle

A tree surgeon is cleaning up after finding himself the perfect side hustle. Shaun Tookey has turned his hand to sprucing up headstones in his spare time and says he has earned thousands from the unusual venture.

The 30-year-old from Hertford in Hertfordshire had the idea while working on trees in graveyards and says it is both "peaceful" and "satisfying". It can take up to two hours to complete a job and he has now cleaned more than 100 graves since he began in May 2023 with families of the deceased paying him between £350 and £450.

After wondering who was responsible for the upkeep of individual plots Mr Tookey realised it was left to family members. He couldn’t afford to set up his enterprising idea straight away but now he is up and running he fits jobs in his spare time.

He said: “I didn't have the funds to start up by myself - I was only an apprentice trainee surgeon at the time. I used to work on a lot of trees in the cemetery and one day I was climbing the tree and I just wondered who cleaned them. I saw a gap in the market and it has all paid off.

“I have had the idea for 12 years but I didn't have the funds to start up myself until last year. Most of the jobs I do are on weekends or I take time out of my day to go clean a grave.”

Shaun Tookey cleans graves as a side hustle but hopes one day to make it a full time job. Picture: SWNSShaun Tookey cleans graves as a side hustle but hopes one day to make it a full time job. Picture: SWNS
Shaun Tookey cleans graves as a side hustle but hopes one day to make it a full time job. Picture: SWNS | SWNS

After launching his @thegravecleaner TikTok page offering his services Mr Tookey has started getting requests and hopes one day to make it his main source of income. He said: “It would be my dream to go full-time with this but I am too scared to jump ship right now.

"When I am cleaning in a cemetery people will come over to me and say they didn't realise this service existed in the UK. It is such a peaceful and satisfying job - especially when you see the transformations."

Some of his clients come from word of mouth but Shaun says a lot of interest comes via social media. He said: "Most of my jobs are through social media, it is such a big platform and my videos are getting a lot better.

"I also go round posting leaflets and cards. When I go to a cemetery for a job people will often come up to me and say they didn't know this service existed in the UK."

Explaining the type of work he carries out, Mr Tookey said: "It all depends on the type of grave, what sort of lettering it has. Whether or not the family want gold leaf lettering then I can do that and if they just want paint I can supply that. I have my standard rates and I do add-ons. 

Shaun cleans between two to four graves a day when he can find the time saying how much he can get done “can vary” due to not wanting to “take the mick” by taking too much time off from his current job. He said: "I can do four a day on average but if they are big jobs I can get two done. If it is a headstone I am cleaning then that can take between 30 minutes to an hour but the bigger graves can take a few hours."

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