Lone piper plays last lament for Tory `Cock O' The North'

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Flamboyant to the last and cocking a snook at dull convention even after his death, Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn was today laid to rest in the crypt of his castle home after a funeral service he choreographed himself.

A lone piper played "Cock O' The North" as Sir Nicholas's coffin was brought out from the 17th-century chapel in the grounds of his estate, Fordell Castle in Fife. Six pall-bearers, including friends and estate workers, bore it to the crypt watched by 100 mourners who had attended a service that Sir Nicholas had stipulated should be spectacular and celebratory.

"Since I'm not coming back, I would like the event to be a celebration," he had told friends.

"I want no nonsense about `Death where is thy sting'."

The family's Irish wolfhounds set up a mournful howl in kennels outside, as the crypt bell tolled and the piper played.

There were few famous names at a service restricted to family and close friends, which included Home Office minister Michael Forsyth and the Tory MP Sir Nicholas Bonsor.

The coffin had laid in the chapel overnight, resting on the Scottish flag. Perched on top was Sir Nicholas's spectacles, his pocket diary, his military medals, a sporran and a feathered Glengarry cap.

Family mourners included Sir Nicholas's first wife, Elizabeth, and their three daughters Charlotte, Anna-Karina and Francesca. His second wife was also there with her son by a previous marriage.

The service began with the hymn Jerusalem and readings by the three daughters, Francesca, close to breaking down, as she read "Let us now praise famous men". The service was conducted by Rev David Ogston, Minister of St John's Church in Perth, where a memorial service is to be held on 3 March. The minister included appropriate readings from Robert Burns:

"Tho' oft the prey of care and sorrow,

"When blest today, and mindful of tomorrow;

"A being formed to amuse his graver friends;

"Admired and praised - and there the wages ends."

A long-standing family friend, Sir Ilay Campbell, paid tribute to Sir Nicholas and said much of the controversy that surrounded him arose from other people's conceptions of him.

He paid affectionate tribute to a man of "complete directness, unfettered by conventional platitudes".

Sir Nicholas died at the weekend, aged 61. His death presents the Government with an unwelcome by-election in his Perth and Kinross constituency.

At the last general election he had a majority of only 2,094 over the SNP.

Comments