A PERMANENT memorial to two North-East football fans who died on board flight MH17 has been unveiled.
Newcastle United has created the The Alder Sweeney Memorial Garden at St James’ Park in memory of the dedicated supporters killed following their team to New Zealand.
John Alder and Liam Sweeney were among 298 passengers killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 disaster in eastern Ukraine in July.
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The garden, which has been constructed in front of reception in the main Milburn Stand at the club’s home, will stand as a lasting tribute to the men, and all Newcastle United supporters who have died.
Club officials including ambassador and former captain Bob Moncur were joined by relatives of Mr Alder and Mr Sweeney for a private ceremony this morning (Friday, August 29) with a blessing of the memorial garden made by Newcastle United’s club chaplain, Reverend Canon Glyn Evans.
The club’s managing director Lee Charnley said: "The loss of John and Liam was truly devastating news.
"Both men were dedicated supporters of our club and were known to thousands of fans and staff alike.”
Mr Alder, 63, from Gateshead, and Mr Sweeney, 28, from Newcastle, were also remembered at Newcastle’s first home fixture of the 2014/15 season against Manchester City, with wreathes laid by their families, captains Fabricio Coloccini and Vincent Kompany and representatives of Sunderland AFC prior to a minute’s silence.
A club spokesman said: “As well as forming a focal point for remembrance, families and friends of supporters who have passed away will also be able to lay flowers and spread ashes at the Alder Sweeney Memorial Garden.”
Last week hundreds of mourners, including Magpies manager Alan Pardew and Fabricio Coloccini, attended the funeral of supermarket worker Liam Sweeney at St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle where he was described as a ‘family man and a gentle giant’.
The club has also created The Alder Sweeney Community Award in their memory, which will recognise the efforts of an individual or organisation in the North-East that has made an outstanding contribution in their community.
Appointments to remember loves ones or hold ceremonies at the garden can be made by calling the club’s operations team on 0191-2018558.