Emma Egging: 'I didn't want to let what Jon stood for die'
It could be the sunniest of days and the bluest of skies, but when Emma Egging looks airborne there will always be shades of grey.
Just over two years have elapsed since her husband Jon died when his Red Arrow crashed at the Bournemouth Air Festival.
A coroner ruled the 33-year-old was probably close to losing consciousness at the time of the accident having been incapacitated by the effects of G-Force.
It is considered one of the most tragic disasters in the air team's history and understandably it is still a difficult topic for Emma to discuss.
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But while Jon, who lived in Rutland, is no longer here in body, his spirit certainly lives on thanks to the commitment of his extraordinary widow.
She, along with Jon's family, has helped create The Jon Egging Trust, which is committed to helping disadvantaged young children achieve their goals.
"After Jon's death, I didn't want to let his qualities and what he stood for as a person die," says Emma.
"He was incredibly talented not only as a pilot but as a teacher too because he knew how to bring out the best in people.
"Jon possessed boundless enthusiasm and his background was such that when he was young he set himself a goal of being a pilot, which is what he became.
"I wanted to make sure other young people could achieve their dreams. The Trust seemed the ideal way of preserving Jon's memory and who he was as a person.
"Even though we lost him in what was a hugely tragic accident, what he stood for and what he represented has not died.
"Naturally, I wish he was here driving it with me.
"He was my husband and my best friend for 13 years and I'm sure he would be doing an awesome job.
"Sadly, he is not and the best I can do is honour who he was, and who he still is really.
"That was the inspiration for this Trust."
The fruits of Emma's labour are clear to see at the Priory Witham Academy in Lincoln where an excited band of teenagers are preparing for one of the Trust's adventures.
All seven of them are on the Blue Skies programme, which is committed to helping those who are not achieving their potential in the classroom.
It is important to stress that this is not just because of bad behaviour but for other legitimate reasons, such as caring for ill family members.
Challenges are subsequently devised and next week the pupils will attempt to climb Kinder Scout in the Peak District.
Two of the Trust's partner schools in Dorset and Norfolk will also take part in the event, which has been branded "4forRed4" – the Red Arrow which Jon used to pilot.
They will have to camp overnight, which includes them erecting tents not to mention the early morning start which is the bane of any teenager's life.
The Priory pupils will be accompanied by the head of year eight, Nick Bibby, and will be joined by Emma and Ben Plank, a current Red Arrow.
It is a demanding hike for an adult let alone teenagers, but Emma says the sense of achieving such goals will only help the children's confidence.
"The 4forRed4 event is about showcasing what the Trust is all about," she says.
"The key words are inspiration, ambition and achievement. We want to show what our young people are capable of and proving to themselves what they can do.
"They have been on a real journey in the last two years.
"They were all selected because they were not achieving their full potential in school for whatever reason.
"The Blue Skies programme provides them with access to inspirational role models such as Duncan Mason from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Red Arrow Ben Plank.
"They will learn skills like how to give presentations, map reading and so on, but the real aim is helping them understand what they are good at and what they can go and do later on in life.
"We are already seeing an impact on the children and none of them would be talking as confidently as they are before they joined the programme.
"One of the children we had could not look you in the eye and was incredibly shy.
"But now she is able to present and has decided she wants to become a counsellor.
"It is examples like this which show these children can climb any mountain in life and what better way to do that by climbing one in real life."