Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

Father uses son's ashes in tattoo

Mark and Lisa Richmond
The couple said they wanted to keep Ayden's ashes with them forever

A father from Herefordshire is to have a portrait of his dead son tattooed on his chest using the child's ashes.

Mark Richmond, 39, and his wife Lisa, 31, said they wanted to do something as a lasting tribute to their son Ayden.

He had a rare condition which meant he was unable to process fats and died in 2005, aged two years and four months.

The couple, who own a tattoo parlour in Greater Manchester, plan to mix some of Ayden's ashes in the ink for a 7in black and white portrait of him.

Mr Richmond, from Ross-on-Wye, said he was inspired by tattooing a portrait of murder victim Sophie Lancaster on her father John.

'Healing effect'

Sophie was a 20-year-old gap student from Lancashire who was killed by a boy in a park in 2008 for being a Goth.

Mr Richmond said: "I invited John over for dinner to talk about the tattoo design and when you've both lost a child, you just bond don't you.

"He wanted a portrait of Sophie done as a way to help heal the scars of losing his daughter and I thought that's something I'd like to have done too."

What better way to express myself than by designing a tattoo of my son using some of his ashes
Mark Richmond

Mr Richmond said he still "feels at a loss and a little bit angry" about losing Ayden.

He has not been to visit his grave yet in Evesham, Worcestershire, and said he hoped the tattoo would help him cope.

He came up with the idea of using the ashes after his wife inquired about having a locket made by one of their customers so that she could always keep the ashes near her.

He said: "I just thought, why not. I'm an artist, what better way to express myself than by designing a tattoo of my son using some of his ashes."

'Unheard of'

The ashes contain carbon, which is what tattoo ink is usually made from, Mr Richmond said.

His wife cannot have the tattoo yet as she is pregnant with their fourth child. She said after the birth she would get her husband to tattoo the same portrait on her arm.

The couple have a tattoo parlour in Cheadle Hulme and their celebrity clients have included David Beckham.

They said they had heard about ashes being used in tattoos in the United States, but never in the UK before.

Mr Richmond plans to have the tattoo done on Wednesday.

He said: "Some people might think it's a bit morbid, but until they have been through what we have, I don't think they can really judge us."

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