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Gravedigger mourns job loss after weekly’s topless pic

A gravedigger claims he lost his job of 40 years after a weekly newspaper’s photograph of him digging a grave with his shirt off caused offence to readers.

Ray Loxton, 59, fears the topless picture published by the Shepton Mallet Journal, led to his recent loss in business from Trotman Funeral Directors, of Cranmore.

The photograph from July, pictured below, shows Ray shielding his eyes from the sun with his right hand – a gesture some readers of the Somerset paper mistook as a cheerful salute.

 “I hadn’t heard from them for a while so I gave them a call. I was told they are using someone else now,” Ray told the paper.

“I am very hurt. I haven’t had a cross word with them in the last 30 years.”

Ray Loxton fears he lost his job after a topless picture of him appeared in the Shepton Mallet Journal

The newspaper’s story about Ray’s job loss, which went viral with 15,000 people viewing it in 24 hours, sparked a debate on the letters page with readers adding their views over whether it was disrespectful or not.

Although Ray is no longer working for the funeral directors, it has not been confirmed whether the topless photograph was the reason why he was relieved of his duties.

Mid Somerset Series editor Bede Macgowan says support has flooded in for Ray since the newspaper broke the story.

“When we carried what we felt was a charming picture of gravedigger Ray Loxton back in July, we obviously had no idea it would go on to create such a storm,” he said.

“The photographer Jason Bryant knows him personally and Ray posed happily for the shot.

“While it would be a terrible shame if Ray had lost his job because of the picture, as he fears, I should mention that the undertakers concerned did not confirm this – despite what some other media outlets are saying.

“What has come through loud and clear since we broke the story, is that Ray is a hugely popular fellow in this part of the world and his legion of fans is growing by the second.

“In fact, I just received a letter all the way from Sweden threatening a Scandinavian invasion if he doesn’t get his job back.

“As such, we sincerely hope all this publicity will have a positive outcome for all concerned.”


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  • November 28, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I guess there must be a reason why the paper wanted to take a pic of a gravedigger at work, but it’s not evident.
    We’re also told that the undertakers didn’t say he was sacked because of the pic. So who says he was?
    And why the absurd ‘topless’ line? Do the good folk of Shepton Mallett expect their graves to be dug by someone in sub-fusc?
    Hard to see the time-line in this oddity.

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  • November 28, 2013 at 10:58 am

    And why write that he was shielding the sun from his eyes when he plainly wasn’t? It was obviously a cloudy day, no shadows, and the man is waving because the snapper asked him to – nothing wrong with that.

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  • November 28, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    “And why write that he was shielding the sun from his eyes when he plainly wasn’t?”

    Maybe because Chris Evans said it yesterday morning?

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