'Too tall to be cremated': North Staffordshire crematoriums can't cope with 7ft 2in Bucknall man Graham Mellor
GRIEVING relatives of 7ft 2in tall Graham Mellor face a 70-mile round trip to pay their last respects – because his coffin is too long for North Staffordshire's crematoriums.
The 72-year-old 'gentle giant' is to be cremated in a 7ft 9in long coffin.
But crematoriums at Carmountside and Bradwell have had to turn Graham away because he is too tall for their cremators.
Instead relatives will have to travel to Bretby Crematorium, near Burton, because that facility can cater for coffins up to 8-ft long.
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Graham, of Chapel Street, Bucknall, died on February 13 after suffering a ruptured aneurysm.
A funeral service is set to be held at Carmountside on Thursday, March 7, followed by his cremation at Burton the following day.
Graham's cousin Sharon Edwards, aged 47, of Beverley Drive, Bentilee said: "I have never heard anything like this before.
"I am completely taken aback and it hasn't quite sunk in yet.
"It will have to be a two-day funeral which makes things quite awkward. But it is nobody's fault. He is an exceptional case because of his height and the funeral directors have been great in trying to organise the ceremony."
Bachelor Graham once won a king-size bed when he was crowned Staffordshire's tallest man in 1967. The former Shelton Bar worker had his clothes and size 15 shoes specially made.
Sharon added: "His height was always a bit of a burden to him and everybody called him the tall man of Bucknall or big man.
"You couldn't take your eyes off him. It was a bit frightening but he had a heart of gold.
"He will be best remembered for his time spent in The Travellers' ex servicemen's club playing cards and darts."
Carmountside Crematorium cannot cater for coffins in excess of 7ft long. At Bradwell, which is run by Newcastle Borough Council, the maximum length is just over 6ft 7in.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council official Christine Whitehead said: "If a coffin exceeds 7ft in length, there is no other option than to arrange for a cremation at a specialist facility."
Borough councillor Elsie Bates said: "This is an extraordinary case and something we've never seen before."
The size of cremation facilities at Bretby Crematorium were extended two years ago.