As the Memorial Garden nears completion, the first ashes have been interred in the foundations of the development.Three urns from Saltergate and the ashes of two supporters who died during the move from the club's former home have been placed under the dais that is a centrepiece for what is expected to be the finest supporter memorial in British football.
A simple service for family and friends of the five fans was led by club chaplain, the reverend Jim McGlade, as five urns were placed into the garden by Ian Browes of the Supporters Club. Those interred were David John Heath and his two sons, Thomas and Adam, together with Colin Hirst and Ray Turner.
The Heath family died in a car accident while returning to their home in Norwich after a game in October 1994. Dave's widow, Maggie, couldn't make the service but was represented by his best friends, Barry Bingham and Graham Clewley, as well as Mark and Veronica Hardwick from Norwich. The remains of the family were previously placed under the pitch at Saltergate.
Graham read out a letter from Maggie in which she recalled how kind and understanding the club had been at the time of the tragedy. Barry said that the garden was "a wonderful way to recognise Dave as a loyal supporter of Chesterfield FC". He added that it was "a great gesture that the club should take the trouble to remember Dave, Tom and Adam in such a nice setting".
Gillian Turner brought the ashes of her husband Ray, a died shortly after the club moved to Sheffield Road. Gillian delivered a moving tribute to Ray, who was a founder member, recalling that he described the new stadium as "rate great". He died on his way home from a match a couple of months after the stadium opened.
Gillian said: "Chesterfield had won, were top of the league, it was a lovely day and he was with his good friend, Jim. If Ray had to go that day, it was a good day." Gillian, who was with her wider family, ended her tribute by declaring: "You've come home, Ray!"
Colin Hirst was taken ill as the new stadium was being built. He ordered one of the first bricks for the wall at what was to be our new home and a special proof was delivered to him before he lost his brave fight.
Sadly, Colin never saw the new stadium finished. His widow, Judy, together with his son and extended family were there to see his ashes put into the garden at the Proact. Judy pointed out that "at last, he is here - watching every match".
John Croot, the head of the Community Trust, handed out flowers to the families and praised the development. He said that the Memorial Garden built by the supporters continued the community links that were an integral part of one of the oldest clubs in the world.
Work on the garden continues but much of it will be complete before a special dinner on August 2. The dinner will recognise the Chesterfield players and officials who lost their lives in the two World Wars of the last century and who will also be commemorated in the garden.
The Supporters Club still needs to raise money to complete every aspect of the garden and fans are invited to visit The Hub for more information about how they can help.