On Saturday, August 2, 2014, just 54 days after the first sod of turf was turned, five memorials were unveiled in the Chesterfield FC Memorial Garden.
Having completed all of the brick, block, paving and planting work at the £35,000 Garden, which is behind the Spencers’ Solicitors Community East Stand, 120 guests watched the formal unveilings before going on to enjoy a Gala Dinner.
The Family of the late Bob Pepper, the long serving Secretary and Director, unveiled the first plaque, featuring an aerial view of Saltergate and mounted adjacent to a Centre Stand Turnstile.
The High Sheriff of Derbyshire then unveiled a memorial commemorating Fred Greaves VC, North Derbyshire’s only born and bred Victoria Cross winner. His daughter Hazel was due to have been there but she suffered a fall a day or two before and was unable to attend.
Royal British Legion officials Bernard Page MBE and Joe Roberts unveiled a plaque from the Staveley Branch remembering all of the local fallen heroes ahead of the most emotional moment of the evening.
Kathleen Blakey, widow of Dave Blakey, Chesterfield’s most appeared player in history who died earlier this year, unveiled a magnificent piece of artwork, a superb mosaic of Dave created by acclaimed artist Robert Lally. The Mayor of Chesterfield, Cllr Alexis Diouf assisted Kathleen.
The final unveiling was done by the Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Mr William Tucker and former Spireites player Albert Collins, who unveiled the Chesterfield FC War Memorial commemorating the lives of the 16 former players and officials killed in the two World Wars of the 20th Century.
Fundraiser Ian Browse and Club Historian Stuart Basson then laid a wreath at the memorial ahead of the Last Post, a minutes silence and the Reveille call before the guests gathered in the Legends Lounge for dinner.
Guest speaker was the inspirational Andy Reid, who lost both legs below the knee and his right arm after stepping on an Improvised Explosive Device in Afghanistan, he received an emotional standing ovation.
Diners also joined a quartet of singers to join in wartime songs at the dinner which helped see the fundraising total pass £33,000, very close to the target.
Fundraising coordinator Phil Tooley said: “We had a fantastic night from the formal ceremonies to the community singing to celebrate the building of the wonderful Chesterfield FC Memorial Garden, the finest example in British Football.
“The Garden has been funded by supporters and we hope supporters visit it, respect it and help it grow and improve. Phase One needed £30,000 to complete, we’ve got that now, so we need to find more things to spend the surplus on which, it has to be said, won’t be too difficult.
“I’m as proud as possible but couldn’t have done it without the public and businesses of Chesterfield and the fund raising committee, of which Ian Browse deserves special mention. He’s been terrific.”
Plaques for family and friends can be purchased to be placed in the Garden, details are available on leaflets available in the Club Superstore.