The memory of Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence is ingrained in the fabric at Ravenhill and will not be forgotten, one of the current squad has said.
Luke Marshall was paying tribute to the 22-year-old who died along with his father Noel and brother Graham in a farm tragedy at the family home near Hillsborough four years ago today (September 15, 2012).
We want to build a legacy at Ulster which will honour his family and his nameLuke Marshall
The loss of the three men in one horrific slurry tank incident sent shockwaves through the farming community – and the sporting fraternity where Nevin was admired as one of the brightest prospects for both international and provincial rugby.
Nevin was an all-round athlete who had also represented the Northern Ireland U16 football team before deciding his future lay with rugby.
His former team mate said the visitor attraction named in his memory is part of a legacy the whole Ulster set up is keen to develop.
Mr Marshall said Nevin’s presence was certainly still felt by the current squad.
“Certainly by the guys who would have known Nevin and been here when he was alive,” he said.
“Nevin was such a likeable guy on and off the pitch and I think all of us who had a chance to get to know him want to build a legacy at Ulster which will honour his family and his name.
“All of us who knew Nevin want to do him proud and also build a culture at Ulster which he would have agreed with.
“I think it’s also important that new guys coming into Ulster get a chance to hear about Nevin and what type of person he was so they can know what the club represents.”
Commenting on the facilities at the new visitor experience, Mr Marshall added: “The visitor centre is excellent. It’s great that we can educate both young and old about rugby in Ulster and how much a positive impact it can have on the community.”
One of the highlights of the visitor centre is a striking oil on canvas painting of Nevin by his sister Emma Spence.
Speaking at the official opening of the museum last September, Ms Spence said the family felt humbled it was named in Nevin’s memory.
“It has been an honour to come and see how Nevin’s name has been remembered,” she said.
“Every time somebody walks into Ulster’s ground, they will see his name above the door and it is a privilege that he has been given such a legacy. Nevin was special to us, and now we find this centre special. I hope when people go there they will learn a bit about Nevin and the character he was.”
Rory Best, in a quote written on the wall of the museum next to the artwork, said of his former team mate: “Nevin’s love of the game of rugby and his positive attitude was infectious. The mark Nevin left runs deeper than rugby.”