Volunteers Profile: Charles Sale

This is a profile of Charles Sale, a Gravestone Photographic Resource volunteer.

A bit about Charles Sale

I am retired having working in central and local government IT throughout almost my entire working life. I have an MSc in Computing for Commerce and Industry but as yet no formal genealogy qualifications - I hope to rectify this in the future.

I was born in Surrey and spent my childhood and school days in Morden and Wimbledon. I lived most of my life in East Anglia (England) although I have lived in London, Exeter and Bristol. Recently I have moved to Cyprus.

Besides running the Gravestone Photographic Resource I also run two other free information services on the internet:

I am also a keen gardener and am particularly interested in growing cacti and succulents. Currently I am designing a website that will help people to identify cacti. Here in Cyprus I also have six tortoises that live wild in the garden.

Charles Sale
Charles Sale
(at his daughters wedding 2010)

Why did you become a volunteer?

I started the Gravestone Photographic Resource back in 1998. At that time I was investigating my own family tree and went on numerous visits to churchyards where I knew my ancestors were buried. The problem was that although I visited dozens of churchyards, I did not find a single monument for a member of my family. However, what I did notice was a huge number legible monument which I would have loved to have been part of my family. I also saw a huge number of monuments that were either completely illegible or soon would be. Thus the idea of the Gravestone Photographic Resource was born!

Having worked in IT throughout my professional life, it easy for me to design, code and implement the Gravestone Photographic Resource on the internet. On the initial version I displayed all the images I took but over time the number of images and their increasing size made this a problem and so I converted the website to the present system.

In May 2010, after running the resource for twelve years I managed to photograph for the first time a grave monument of my own ancestors - my grandfather and grandmother!

How long have you been a volunteer?

Since I started the project in 1998.

What type of volunteer are you?

I do whatever is needed!

How do you choose which cemetery to photograph?

When I lived in North East Suffolk I gradually covered all the local cemeteries and then gradually worked my way out. Also, whenever I went visiting friends and relations elsewhere in the country I would make a break in the journey and photograph a cemetery!

How much time do you spend volunteering for the Gravestone Photographic Resource?

I normally spend between two and five hours each day on the Resource.

Would you recommend volunteering?

Although I am obviously biased, I think the project is extremly important. Grave monuments are a tremendously valuable historic resource which are all too rapidly disappearing. A good example of this is a churchyard I photographed in 2005 and which has now been sold and most of the monuments placed face-down as paving! More typicially monuments are lost through neglect, decay and vandalism.

The Gravestone Photographic Resource stores the name, date, age and relationship details for ALL names mentioned on a grave monument within an internet database. This is extremely important as it is often these other names and relationships that help people to find their missing links! Holding this information in a database means that the information is readily available and can be displayed in a large number of different ways. I do not know of any other grave monument internet site that holds and displays the relationship details that are displayed on grave monuments.

Odds and ends

If you are unsure about volunteering then please contact me using the contact us page.

Every additional photo added to the Gravestone Photographic Resource means that someone somewhere will be able to find an ancestor grave.

If every person who has recieved an image from the Gravestone Photographic Resource had sent two images back, the resource would be almost twice the size it is now!


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