Jonny Yaxley won the Gravedigger of the Year 2014 at the Good Funeral Awards in Bournville. Since then he’s been featured in the Oxford Mail, Bucks Herald, Daily Mail, BBC website, Henley Herald, New Statesman, not omitting an appearance on Radio Oxford. He’s got a claim to be Britain’s first ‘celebrity’ gravedigger.
What kind of year has it been for you?
I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been quite shocking really. I keep expecting the attention to die down, but then I get another call.
What’s the latest offer been?
A production company want to make documentaries about people whose jobs are metaphors for life. They came down to film for a trailer to pitch to a TV company the idea of doing a 40 minute documentary on me.
Did you get a letter from your MP?
I’m in Ed Vaizey’s constituency and I received a letter on the formal House of Commons notepaper congratulating me on becoming the gravedigger of the year. I met him a few weeks after that, and he took a selfie with me which he circulated on Twitter.
Has anybody recognised you in the street?
Yes, I’ve been spotted in my local and in the shops. The positivity from people has been great.
What have the press focused on?
The Oxford Mail was the first to write about me and the journalist became obsessed by my ‘custom-built’ spade – the tools I use more than anything else.
Did you enjoy the weekend?
I came on the Saturday afternoon. Everyone was so friendly. There was a lot of love in the room. It was lovely to meet like-minded people and it was a great event. This year I want to know ‘Can I defend my title?’
The Good Funeral Awards will take place on Saturday 5 September 2015 at the University of Winchester.