A RETIRED software developer has set up an online memorial book documenting the life stories of loved ones.

Keith Shepherd, 71, from New Inn, came up with the idea after wanting to share his dad’s life story with his children and grandchildren.

Edgar Shepherd served in the navy during the Second World War and police force, and died in 1996 from a heart attack, aged 71.

But after the coronavirus hit, and families were unable to connect with loved ones or attend funerals, Mr Shepherd realised his website would have a wider application.

The online memorial, at lovedoneslife.uk, went live two weeks ago.

“My father, Edgar, was a policeman in Gwent Constabulary. He played rugby for the British police against the French police.

“I wanted to put his full life story as he was also in the navy in the Second World War, and that’s where he met my mother. It’s a nice story.

“He died in 1996. He was on the London Underground when he was in London representing the police pensioners in Wales. He had a heart attack.

“I wanted my family and especially my grandchildren to find out more about their great-grandfather. Hopefully it will be there for them to read forever.

“I also found out last year a friend of mine who I had been close with when I was younger died in 2006. I thought it would be nice for people to be able to search for people they used to be in touch with.”

It is free to register for the website, and you have the option to upload a full life story, pictures from throughout a loved one’s life, and also audio recordings from a funeral - as well as an option to open a book of condolence where friends and family can leave a message for a lost loved one.

“Before Covid-19 set in, I thought of being able to record funeral services for people that couldn’t make the funeral,” said Mr Shepherd. “It turned out that service was really apt.

“I thought it would have been lovely if I had that for my father’s funeral. He was very popular in the community and the church was packed, so it would have been nice to share that with people that couldn’t be there.

“Obituaries that get published and soon forgotten are not enough, while posting something on Facebook or other social media doesn’t feel dignified to honour the loss of someone so special.

“I hope that all those who have lost people due to this pandemic will be heartened to know that they are able to save the memories and life stories of their loved ones on a dedicated internet site.

“We must never forget the love they brought to so many people, and this is one more way to make sure they are remembered for ever more.”

The website also includes the details of people and NHS staff which have been released into the public domain who had died as a result of coronavirus.