The following obituary for Terry Sarsfield was first published in the newsletter of the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM).
Terry Sarsfield, 89 years, passed peacefully on 27th December 2022. Terry was a traditional craftsman who served his apprenticeship in Carrara Italy in the 1950s, learning all aspects of the craft of Stone Carving and Stone Masonry. On his return to the UK he worked alongside his father and two elder brothers in the family Monumental Masons – Sarsfield Memorials, the oldest family-run Monumental Masons in Liverpool.
Working right through into his mid 70’s alongside his youngest daughter Ursula, who now runs the business. Terry’s skills can be seen daily all over Liverpool from listed buildings in the City, Churches, Stately Homes and Cemeteries. Terry continued on, after his retirement at 75 years, to be an invaluable resource for stonemasons and architects across the UK.
Although being trained in traditional craftsmanship, Terry was an innovative Mason, who whilst President of NAMM (50 years ago) worked hard to foster relationships between professionals, nurturing mutual support networks across both the UK and abroad. Linking small family run masonry and memorial businesses with engineers, architects and larger industrial stone manufacturers.
He was a promoter of technical development in the trade, one of the early adopters of the (at the time), revolutionary INCIMAR lettering machines which elevated the speed of response for memorial work. He later worked alongside engineers at INCIMAR as a consultant helping to advise on the design of letterforms to retain and expand the qualities of lettering craftsmanship which he had such a passion for.
Terry went on to become the UK representative for INCIMAR, supporting Masons across the UK in their transition from hand lettering to more modern methods, Ursula is now the UK representative for INCIMAR. In the 1970’s he worked with engineers to develop one of the first large scale, walk-in sandblasting units for working on complex Memorials, later advising Masons across the country on how the techniques he explored might serve their needs.
Whilst President of NAMM, in recognition of both his efforts to foster links between the UK Masons and international Stone Industries and for his bringing together of international Stonemasonry expertise, in support of renovation work on the City’s Castle and Capuchin Monastery, he was made Honorary Freeman of the Medieval City of Rapperswil, Switzerland.
Terry valued the idea that professionals should provide a mutual support network, particularly in changing and challenging times. He knew the value of family and the family approach to embracing differences and looking out for each other. Bringing this mindset to his Professional work, he retained his hugely approachable attitude; dispensing guidance, advice and support, freely to Masons whenever approached.
Throughout his later years, no longer able to cope with the physical aspects of the trade, Terry acted as a professional consultant to Masons and Architects, providing insights and solutions to a myriad of Memorial and Masonry technical problems.
Throughout his involvement with NAMM, from the early days when it was a voluntarily run supportive organisation, through to his later Presidentship and onwards into the influential and professionally driven organisation it is today, Terry promoted the need to bring together innovation and craftsmanship, hand in hand with an empathetic understanding of the needs of customers, fellow craftsmen and the industry as a whole.
Given the vast range and depth of his knowledge and the huge number of connections he had fostered over the years, both nationally and internationally, he will be greatly missed. Terry Sarsfield leaves behind May, his wife of 63 years, and three children.