A community stalwart who continued her work to help others after the murder of her husband in Sheffield has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Maureen Greaves, aged 65, from High Green, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for ‘services to the community’.
Alan Greaves, 68, was killed as he made his way to St Saviour’s Church to play the organ on Christmas Eve 2012.
Maureen told The Star: “I couldn’t believe it when I read the letter from the Cabinet Office.
“I stood with it in my hand and kept reading it over and over.
“I feel very honoured.”
She said she was so shocked she rang the Cabinet Office to check it was correct and she did not think she had done ‘anything out of the ordinary’.
Maureen, of High Green, said helping others in the wake of husband Alan’s murder helped her come to terms with her loss and gave her an escape from the intensity of the ongoing police investigation and his killers’ subsequent trial.
She said: “When I read the letter I just couldn’t take it in so I rang the Cabinet Office to double check.
“They told me someone had nominated me for the way I behaved after Alan had died and how I acted towards other people and continued the work that Alan and I were doing.”
Alan was murdered in a brutal attack on Christmas Eve 2012 as he made his way to St Saviour’s Church in High Green to play the organ.
His killers Jonathan Bowling and Ashley Foster were jailed seven months later following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
Three weeks before his death the couple, both retired social workers and practising Christians, set up the St Saviour’s Project – a scheme attached to the church which saw them open a food bank and charity shop to help needy members of the community.
Following Alan’s death, Maureen who works for the Church Army, threw herself into the project, which has since expanded to offer a job club, financial advice and weekly community meal to local residents.
She said: “I looked back to the first eight months after Alan died and thought that perhaps one of the reasons someone nominated me for this award was because I was able - even in my heart-broken state to understand that other people were hurting themselves.
“I had a very deep understanding that others were still in pain – and it was an easing of my own pain to recognise other people were in pain and then you share that moment.
“That time was not just about receiving sympathy, it was a shared experience.”
Maureen added: “I believe that God was very much there after Alan’s death and enabled me to carry on in a way that would transform the situation.
“Alan and I opened the food bank three weeks before he died. It cost money to put it together and we had trained all the volunteers, I didn’t want it to collapse.
“I wanted to go up and see if the shop was okay. That wasn’t just me being a martyr it was a release for me from all the tragedy and from seeing the police all the time.”
Maureen’s citation reads: “For the past 10 years she has worked in North Sheffield serving the local community as a Church Army Evangelist lay preacher. “Since being commissioned she has served the area in a quiet and unassuming way, always ready to help in a crisis and willing to listen to others.
“She always showed a down to earth approach and an ability to get on with the job in a way that inspired others to help.”
Speaking about her award, Maureen said: “I do feel very honoured and thrilled. I’m going to take my daughter Emma with me to Buckingham Palace.
“I feel well, goodness me – for this to be an ending to this very unexpected journey is very honouring.
“In a sense I’m a very blessed woman. I have strong ties with the church, I have a close family and friends and having all these people in my life has obviously helped.
“There is still a loneliness for Alan. I think of him every day, not with sadness but he’s always in my thoughts. I’m not leading a miserable life, I’m leading a good life that has obviously got better over time but it still has this great sense of loneliness for him.”