And now Maureen Greaves, whose husband Alan was killed on his way to a Sheffield church on Christmas Eve nearly 10 years ago, says people should forgive Boris Johnson rather than calling for his resignation.
Alan, a devout Christian like his wife, was attacked as he walked to play the organ at St Saviour’s Church, High Green, on Christmas Eve 2012. He was aged 68.
Jonathan Bowling, then aged 22, of Carwood Way, Pitsmoor, admitted attacking Alan with a pickaxe handle and was jailed for life.
His accomplice Ashley Foster, also aged 22, of Wesley Road, High Green, was sentenced to nine years for manslaughter.
But Mrs Greaves forgave them – and now feels people should show the same forgiveness for Mr Johnson and others caught up in the Downing Street ‘Partygate’ scandal, which saw Mr Johnson and others attending parties when they were banned under coronavirus lockdown rules.
She said: “Like most people I have listened to the news about Boris Johnson and other MPs, councillors and high-ranking officials breaking Covid rules. I stand with the people in their condemnation of such behaviour.
“However I’ve become more disturbed by the unrelenting cries for dismissal, harsh consequences and the immediate removal of such people from their positions.
“Have we now become a society that can no longer show mercy and grace to people sincerely sorry for their actions?
“I have needed much mercy and grace from my late husband, colleagues, friends and family.
“Without it my life would have been much poorer and I may never have learned the awesome transformation that comes when mercy and grace are given to those who fail.”
She said she had forgiven Alan’s killers because she wanted to place them in the hands of God, for Him to judge them and guide them. She said she did not look at them with hatred, and that had meant she had been able to get on with her life.
Maureen and Alan Greaves preached forgiveness
She said both she and Alan had always been strong advocates of forgiveness.
Meanwhile, Maureen is continuing to do work in her community, and during lockdown had set up a sort of library outside her home.
It gave people somewhere they could pick up or drop off books next to her garden wall, and has since expanded, to include clothes and children’s toys.
She said: “I started a sort of community book shop in the first lockdown, because I’m a book lover. I put some books out on my wall, and it became really popular and caught on. I realised my garden wall was like a wonderful shop, and people would leave things for it. I used it as a give away. I will continue with it in the future.”
Before lockdown, she had run a proper community shop, which ran at cost rather then profit.
She is now in talks to start that up again and is currently looking to find a retail venue in High Green which she can use. She will run on the basis of sales covering the cost of rent and bills.