As the sun set across Chesterfield, around a hundred people gathered in a churchyard on a hill overlooking the town to pay their respects to Gracie Spinks.
The 23-year old passed away in a field in Duckmanton four months ago to the day, having been attacked and stabbed in the neck while tending to her beloved horse Paddy.
With darkness closing in on those at St Bartholomew’s Church in Old Whittington on Tuesday, October 19, candles were lit, prayers were said, songs were sung and speeches were made by Miss Spinks’ graveside which was covered in flowers, cards, good wishes and balloons.
Reverend Jo Morris, the Rector of St Bartholomew’s, led the vigil and told Derbyshire Live the event was all about Miss Spinks on what should’ve been a very special day for her: “Tonight was about celebrating Gracie’s life and remembering that really she should be a 24-year old out partying on her birthday tonight.”
Those in attendance, which included members of Miss Spinks’ family and friends and Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, who had come up from London to attend as well, heard from Jackie Barnett-Wheatcroft, who’s started up an online petition campaigning for a change in the law and the introduction of “Gracie’s Law” in a bid to combat stalkers and those who want to harm women.
She spoke passionately about the need for a change in the rules and that action was needed to try and stop women, just like Miss Spinks, from being attacked and killed at the hands of those who wish them harm.
Miss Spinks’ voice was also heard at her graveside when a recording of her singing in the bathroom at home was played, this emotional moment made many in the crowd gathered in the churchyard break down in tears.
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Reverend Jo Morris, who closed the vigil with the Lord’s prayer, said despite the event, it’s going to take time for Miss Spinks’ family and friends to come to terms with what’s happened: “For the family, it’s a long walk and I’m fairly certain they’ll get to a point where they’ll live with it but it’s a long, long walk.
“Every first birthday of Gracie’s, every first birthday of their own, everything that they would’ve celebrated Christmas, Easter, Bonfire night, New Year’s Eve, they’re very good at New Year’s Eve at their house, every one of them they’ll be that Gracie-shaped hole in and the first one of them is always the worst and after that, they get that little bit easier each time but that hole never closes up, that Gracie-shaped hole will always be there.”