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‘Gone to the wide blue yonder’: Red arrows fan gets send-off wish after losing cancer battle

Erimar McPherson
Erimar McPherson

A mum with a love for the Red Arrows is to be buried today in a custom-made coffin in the shape of the planes.

In 2002, Erimar McPherson had a red and white casket specially made in the image of the RAF’s air display planes as she hated traditional funerals.

The pensioner decided to arrange her own when her son-in-law died in his sleep, leaving her daughter Helen to arrange everything.

She vowed then to make sure the family would not have to struggle to arrange and pay for her own funeral.

Her first move was to buy a plot of land at Foveran cemetery and an unusual headstone in the shape of a pig, giving a nod to the fact she was brought up on a farm.

Then, she paid £1,000 for her very own red and white plane, complete with fold-able wings, a tail fin and cockpit.

The gravestone

Painted on one side is Mrs McPherson’s name and on the other is the message “gone to the wide blue yonder”.

Mrs McPherson, who had colon cancer, died on Sunday. She was 86.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown, only a few family members will be able to attend her funeral today.

Her daughter Helen Bennett paid tribute to her mother and said: “She had wanted a big event for her funeral, so it has made us really emotional that this coronavirus outbreak has happened.

“When all this is over, we can buy some bottles of wine, put on mum’s music and properly celebrate her life.

“I was also planning a yard sale to sell her belongings for Cancer Research UK, but that will have to go on hold.”

Mrs Bennett was in the RAF with her late husband Keith, a factor in her mother’s love for the Red Arrows.

She said: “Some people have trees and some people have balloons when they die, but mum wanted a plane.

“She was a massive fan of the Red Arrows.”

Ms Bennett returned to Aberdeenshire from England to be with her mother in her later years and said they had been the “best of friends”.

She added: “Mum was brought up by her grandparents in Foveran and had family from Banff.

“She had a difficult life but that did make her stronger. She was a gutsy person but also really down to earth.

“I’ll miss her terribly.”

In 2002, Mrs McPherson told the Press and Journal about her funeral plans and said: “You can’t choose how you come into the world, but I wanted a say in how I left it.

“My funeral will be a party – a celebration of my life.”

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