Friends and family gathered to scatter the ashes of Tony, a sports enthusiast, who died of Motor Neurone Disease in February this year.

Tony’s father John, 64, formerly of Silverdale Road, said: “It’s a celebration. We have been grieving for three-and-a-half years.

“It’s great to see how proud Maiden Erlegh school are of him. We are all proud. He would have been 37 in October. He attended Maiden Erlegh between 1991-1997, sat his A-levels here and represented the school at cricket, rugby, basketball and football.”

Tony moved to the United States to pursue a soccer scholarship at the Virginia Military Institute.

He met his wife Amanda and they had two children, who remain in Lexington, Virginia.

John and Pauline Conway followed their son out to the US, moving to North Carolina in 2002, but the couple felt it was important to bring some of Tony’s ashes back “home” to the place he loved most.

Mr Conway said: “We wanted to remember him in his way. Lots of people weren’t able to make it to Lexington.”

Among the crowd was Tony’s long-term friend Scott Blighty, 35, who is arranging a 100km walk in honour of his old school mate.

He said: “Tony was always the tough guy who never felt the need to get himself into trouble.

“He commanded a lot of respect and he loved his sport.

“We are arranging a walk to raise money for charity in his memory.”

Paul Gibson, 33, assistant head teacher at Maiden Erlegh said: “It’s nice to see the family and friends back, and it’s great to have him back here, and to have something here for him to be remembered forever.”

Celtic FC and Scotland captain Scott Brown sent a letter to the family passing on his condolences, having met Tony briefly prior to his death.

Mr Brown paid tribute to Tony, describing him as a 'radiator’, someone who had 'great warmth and energy about him’.