GRIEVING families are having to wait for up to three weeks to bury their loved ones due to a shortage of gravediggers.

Over the past few months the burial service teams at cemeteries across the region have struggled to meet demand.

And the waits for bereaved families shows no sign of ending.

Margaret Wight from Kelso was informed after her father-in-law's recent death that his funeral couldn't take place for at least a fortnight.

She told us: "It is difficult enough to lose someone but to then be told you can't bury them because of a shortage of gravediggers is just terrible.

"The funeral directors are as frustrated as the families.

"You can understand having to wait for up to a week but to be told the funeral can't take place for more than a fortnight is wrong.

"A funeral brings comfort."

Scottish Borders Council provide burials at 154 cemeteries across the region.

Funeral directors believe gravedigging squads having to cover larger areas is to blame for the delays.

One undertaker, who we agreed not to name, said: "We believe a week is an acceptable wait for a funeral but we have struggled to provide this for some time.

"It's difficult telling someone that a funeral can't take place for two or three weeks.

"There is a lack of gravediggers in the area - there has been for some time - and this isn't a specific problem for just one or two towns, it's right across the Borders."

Scottish Borders Council charges £762 for weekday burial fees with the price rising to £963 for Saturday mornings.

The local authority this week told us that attempts are being made to bring down the waiting times for grieving families.

A spokesperson said: “All avenues are being explored regarding squad availability to meet as many requests as possible.

"Our burial teams make every effort to accommodate burial requests from bereaved families and in normal circumstances the vast majority of burial requests are met.

“However, the squads are extremely busy at the moment due to a high volume of requests, which is resulting in short delays to some interments."