THE tight-knit community where Neil Dalton lived is united in grief this weekend.
Prayers will be said for the popular student at a church service while friends and sports clubs he belonged to plan their own tributes.
The Rev Valerie Hart has said everybody is welcome to attend the Sunday service at 9.30am at St Luke’s Church in Heage where prayers will be said for Neil.
Rev Hart said: “We are all very stunned at the news. It is obviously terrible for the family. He had a brilliant future and real potential. He was out in Borneo to increase his skills and local people are devastated.
“Prayers for Neil will be included in the morning service and people can also light candles. It’s an opportunity for people to come.
“What has happened is a terrible thing for the people that knew Neil.”
Jamie Deeming, a friend of Neil’s at Belper Amateurs cricket club, said the club’s first and second team games, both against Alfreton, would go ahead as planned today.
He said players would hold a minute’s silence before the match and black armbands would be worn.
Plans are also being organised for a special “Neil Day” to be held at the club on either September 13 or 14, depending on the weather.
Mr Deeming said the game would be between teams from Neil’s friends at Belper Amateurs, Ambergate and Belper Meadows.
All of the clubs involved have welcomed the idea.
Mark Heath, chairman at Ambergate Cricket Club, said: “Neil played at Ambergate until he was 13 and some of the other players knew him quite well.
“We are keen for the Neil Day but we are still in a state of shock. Everyone speaks so highly of him.”
Mark Slater, chairman at Belper Meadows Cricket Club, also welcomed the day.
He said: “It’s very sad news. We would most certainly be keen to take part in the day. The cricket community will stand together but it’s just such a shock at the moment.”
Ryan Burton, the general manager at The Green House pub in Belper said Neil and his friends used to visit. He said people had spoken about the shock news.
He added: “I did not know Neil personally but some of the bar staff did know him well. People have said what a lovely lad he was and everyone knew how much he had to offer. He wanted to make a difference and he was clearly well liked and a special lad.”
Ryan was behind the bar when the news of Neil’s death broke. He said: “It was a very big shock when we saw it and it said he was from Ambergate. It was unbelievable and the atmosphere was very sombre.”
Tributes have continued to be posted on a Facebook tribute site for the former Belper School pupil.
One of them, Matt Jones, said: “My friend, my brother I will miss you forever. We’ve had amazing times together. Will see you again.”