THE mother of late Saltcoats soldier Derek ‘Fergie’ Ferguson says she can’t thank his friends enough after they have been “absolutely fantastic at this awful time”.

Fergie, 32, passed away suddenly on May 23, after sudden heart conditions took hold out of the blue.

Only days prior, he had been in Seville as his beloved football club Glasgow Rangers played in the Europa League final.

He then returned home on the Saturday, to see his side lift the Scottish Cup trophy. It was then he started to complain about what felt like heartburn.

His heartbroken mum Maggie told the Herald: “His dad gave him something for heart burn, it didn’t help.

“Then on the Monday, he was telling me couldn’t breathe, and that was his last day.

“But his last week would have been one of the best of his life.”

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Fergie grew up in the local area, delivering papers as a youngster, before becoming a milk boy, and later joining the army, serving his country for six years.

He eventually stepped away from the armed forces, due to an injury he obtained after being shot on service in Afghanistan.

Following his death, Maggie had an important message for young people in the community.

She said: “Tell the young folk to make sure that they get their heart checked, because Fergie was a fit young boy of 32, loved life and ended up he had a tear in his heart.

“He was just such a fun loving party boy, who loved life, and he’s just been taken too soon.”

Fergie has undoubtedly left a gaping hole in the community, where he was so well known and loved.

Maggie explained: “He would help anybody.

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“If you asked everyone in the Three Towns, you’d be struggling to find someone who didn’t know him or didn’t like him because he was just amazing, and I don’t know how I’m going to get through life without him.”

The impression he left on the Three Towns was no more evident than at his funeral, where over 600 people attended the service at Saltcoats North Parish Church.

“It stopped the traffic. There was a queue going into the church there was that many folk,” Maggie continued.

“He was a well loved boy, everybody knew him. He got a great send off.”

Maggie also expressed just how grateful she was for the support given by all who knew Fergie, at his funeral.

The army sent down a piper and bugle player for his service, as well as a union flag for his coffin to be draped in.

While the community rallied round, and raised £1,700 which the family donated to two charities close to them, in his memory.

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They donated £950 to Erskine Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and £750 was split between the RHF Veterans for all they done in Fergie’s memory.

Maggie explained the support she, husband Raymond, Fergie’s “heartbroken” brother Raymond, his sister-in-law Shirley and niece Charlotte have had since her son’s passing.

She said: “All his friends made a big donation, they had a lift for me and his dad and the money they raised nearly paid his funeral.

“I need to give a big thanks to the Cross Keys and all of Fergie’s friends from school and the army, all of them, because they were absolutely fantastic.”

The Cross Keys pub in Stevenston was Fergie’s “regular haunt” and he travelled on their supporters bus to Rangers matches. They have made an amazing gesture to ensure his memory lives on.

Maggie explained: “They’ve actually got a wee flag made, it’s got Fergie’s name in it, his favourite drink is Stella – so they got it made with the Stella emblem and a soldier emblem. They’re taking it on all the tours so Fergie’s never forgotten.”