Why I’ve hidden 22 elephants around the world

Lorn Pearson in Calpe in Spain in September 2022
Image caption,Lorn Pearson left this ceramic elephant in Calpe in Spain to remember her granny

By Angie Brown

BBC Scotland News

When Lorn Pearson was a child she was fascinated by the big wooden elephant in her granny’s house in the Highlands.

On visits, she would lie down next to the ornament while she listened to the story of how her grandfather brought it back from India.

In 2002 Lorn, who was then living in Glasgow – found a small white elephant in a gift shop and sent it to her granny for Christmas.

But Margaret McKenzie Fletcher, who was 87, died on the 13 December that year before receiving it. Lorn asked her aunt Sheila if she could unwrap it and put it in the coffin with her granny and she agreed.

“After that I started this thing that I would buy an elephant in a charity shop, and keep it for a bit. Then I’d take it with me where I was going, on holiday or a trip to a park,” the 43-year-old told BBC Scotland News.

“I’d drop the elephant, and sit and remember her and hope that I’m doing her proud. And if someone picked the elephant up, then all the better.

“So far I’ve dropped them all over the world. I make sure that they’re small and usually hidden so they don’t litter the place. Just a little way for me to remember my granny.”

Lorn Pearson's grandparents
Image caption,Lorn’s grandparents, John and Margaret, met and married in the 1930s. Her grandfather, who was a GP, was stationed in India during World War Two

Among the places Lorn has left the trinkets to remember her granny are Lochaline, on the Morven peninsula, where Mrs Fletcher lived at the end of her life and where she is buried with her husband, John, and next to her daughter, Sheila.

There are also elephants hidden in Wick, where Lorn grew up, and in Edinburgh, where Mrs Fletcher lived as a child.

Further afield, Lorn has left elephants in Lisbon, San Diego, Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto, Calpe in Spain, and Tenerife.

She has also placed two elephants in trees in Pollok Park in Glasgow and put a special glass elephant she had made by a friend in Queens Park in the city for what would have been her granny’s 100th birthday.

White elephant on gravestone
Image caption,This elephant is on Lorn’s grandmother’s grave

Another is under Glasgow’s so-called “squinty bridge” across the River Clyde.

“There’s a caged section underneath the squinty bridge that’s locked,” she said. “I put it in there by throwing it in and then pushing it further with a stick.”

In 2018 she put an elephant in a tree in St James Park after running the London Marathon.

“I found a really nice spot where the elephant would have a lovely view of the park,” she said.

“I surreptitiously looked around to check nobody was watching and then I popped it into a hole in the tree and sat and remembered my granny.”

Christmas card from Lorn's granny
Image caption,Lorn says she will never spend the £5 inside her granny’s last Christmas card

After her granny’s funeral, Lorn arrived home to a Christmas card from her – post-marked on the day she died – with £5 in it.

“I burst into tears,” she said. “Remembering her, my granny, and what a wonderful person she was.

“I’ll always keep that £5 note, even though she would be mad at me not spending it.”

She then inherited her granny’s big wooden elephant.

“I call him Fletch after my grandparents’ surname.”

Lorn Pearson
Image caption,Lorn Pearson calls her granny’s wooden elephant Fletch

Friends also give Lorn elephants as gifts and she keeps these ones.

She has at least 40 model elephants in her house.

“They are scattered across my house, garden and car so it doesn’t look like I have a herd of them,” she said.

Elephant in a tree in Jardim da Estrela in Lisbon, Portugal
Image caption,This elephant was left in a tree in Jardim da Estrela in Lisbon, Portugal

Lorn, who used to work for BBC Scotland in Glasgow and now works for Barclays, said the practice of dropping elephants around the world had helped her to remember and grieve for her granny.

“I really don’t mind if people pick them up and take them home. http://makcauhai.com/ It’s all about remembering my granny, the journey of the elephant, and hoping that I’ve made my granny proud,” she said.

“I explained the story to some family members recently so that they know I’m not just some crazy elephant lady.”

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