BREATHTAKING coastlines, scenic beauty spots and even the hallowed turf of a cherished football stadium are among the traditional final resting spots for a loved one’s ashes.
But one bereaved son is taking his late mother’s remains on one last epic adventure – a gruelling 4000-mile tour through sprawling desert and volatile conflict zones as a competitor in the Dakar Challenge.
Grant Henderson, 49, will take on the tortuous race in the 18-year-old banger he inherited from his mum’s estate and says he will scatter some of her ashes at a tropical heaven near the finish line so that she will “always be on holiday”.
Two years ago, Grant’s mum, Heather, passed away unexpectedly when she contracted pneumonia aged 75.
Her last request was to have her ashes scattered in England – her native country – and at the top of Arthur’s Seat.
But after inheriting her Toyota Starlet, Grant decided to take her wishes a step further.
“It would have tickled mum to know her car was going to be used for this adventure.” he said.
“I think she would love to know a little bit of her will always be on holiday.”
The Dakar Challenge begins in Tarifa and will see Grant and co-driver Sean Berry, 50, work their way through Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara and Senegal.
They will also traverse Mauritania – a country blackmarked by the UK Foreign Office, which has advised against all travel due to security risks.
Along the way, they will cross the sprawling Sahara, volatile conflict zones and the heartland of the Ebola pandemic as part of the international charity rally boasting more than 30 drivers.
“I’ve been driving my mum’s old car semi-regularly for a while now, but it’s never been exposed to 300 miles a day in some of the harshest conditions around,” he said.
“They say one in three cars don’t make it through the Sahara, although I know the African mechanics we’ll meet along the way are incredible at keeping old cars like this running.
“So all I can do is pray we make it all the way to the finish line in The Gambia.
“There’s also the chance that the route will have to change along the way because of the Ebola crisis spreading across west Africa, and so we’ll have to play it by ear.”
Commercial property owner Grant, who lives in Eskbank, intends to raise money for Ebola charities through his madcap exploits.
He will also sell the run-down car and donate the proceeds to charity.
“I’ve been involved with the Esk Valley Rotary Club for ages, and they’re currently working to raise money for a charity called End Polio Now,” he said.
“And so before we leave, we’re taking on donations from people all over the area, as well as local businesses, to give to the charity and to help fight Ebola – and in return they will be able to sign the car and have their signature travel all the way to Africa.”
Once there, Grant aims to scatter Heather’s ashes in Banjul, capital of The Gambia.
“I’m nervous about this trip, but I’m excited to try to make a difference by raising money for charity,” he said.