Chesterfield vicar urges support as Gracie Spinks’ family live “without her”

An Old Whittington vicar hopes the community continues to support the family of Chesterfield woman Gracie Spinks as they “learn how to live the new normal without her”.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 11:02 am

Reverend Jo Morris, Rector of Whittington, described how during the weekend over 200 people joined in vigils at Old Whittington’s St Bartholomew Church.

Shocked locals of all ages lit candles, said prayers and wrote messages to Gracie’s family after news emerged on Friday of the 23-year-old’s death.

Rev Morris has known Gracie and her family since she took over as rector eight years ago.

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Rev Jo Morris lighting a candle for Gracie at St Bartholomew's Church Old Whitington.
Rev Jo Morris lighting a candle for Gracie at St Bartholomew's Church Old Whitington.

She described them as “rocked” by “utter grief” over what has happened to Gracie - who lived at the family home when she died.

Jo said: “The family are rocked, they’re unbelieving - they rock in and out of thinking ‘we’ve imagined it’ and then rock back to “we’ve not imagined it’.

“There are moments of rationality and moments of utter grief - it’s difficult to do anything other than that.

“They’re existing minute-by-minute, yo-yoing between trying to have some normality and absolute devastation - that’s what it is for them.”

Rev Jo Morris lighting a candle for Gracie at St Bartholomew's Church Old Whitington.

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She described how on Saturday and Sunday this weekend mourners appeared “shocked”, “stunned” “distressed” and in “disbelief” as they gathered at the church.

Many young people as well as older members of the community gathered to write comforting messages - which will be collated for the family.

Others - some unable to find the right words - cooked lasagnes and other meals to show the family they were in their thoughts.

Local chaplains and the Bishop of Repton came to the church to speak with people while the prayer telling of when Jesus lay down in a storm alone was handed out with a photo of Gracie.

Rev Morris, describing Gracie as a “lovely, hard-working girl”, got to know the Spinks through their fundraising for Old Whittington Gala.

Gracie - who died near the Duckmanton stables where her beloved horse Paddy was kept - helped organise a horse racing night as part of the gala committee’s fundraising work.

She said: “That’s the kind of girl Gracie was - just a sweet, overwhelmingly lovely girl.

“If she ever wanted to do something in the church yard that other people would just do, she always asked. That’s what made her different, she always asked first.”

However Jo was keen to correct information circulating in many news stories since her death describing Gracie as a “model”.

Rev Morris said: “She wasn’t a model. Yes, she’s done a little bit of modelling but she was just a young lass doing her best to enjoy herself and to be a great person.

“She was a good friend to her friends and was just a lovely person.”

Speaking about the community reaction to Gracie’s death Jo said people were “quiet and overwhelmingly sad in church”.

She added: “Some people say ‘I don’t know what to write’ but I say ‘just put your name so people know you’ve been’.

“The family will be in limbo for the next few weeks but six months from now we’ve got to keep supporting them.

“I hope we’ll continue to support them over the next few months as they learn to live the new normal without her.”

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