The widow of church organist Alan Greaves, who was murdered on Christmas Eve four years ago, has thanked the people of Sheffield for an ‘overwhelming outpouring of love’ this week.
Maureen Greaves has paid tribute to the local community in High Green for the support they provide to her and her family at this difficult time of year.
She said: “People do remember him. There is an overwhelming outpouring of love towards me during this week.
“People say ‘Are you all right Maureen?’ and give me a hug. They have been a very supportive group of people.”
Maureen and her family will lay a wreath at the spot where the father-of-four was attacked as he made his way to St Saviour’s Church in High Green to play the organ at a Christmas service.
Shen said: “Each year, we take a wreath and put it on the railings. When I’m going up and down to church you see people stopping their cars.
“They knew Alan and I. They knew him so well. They are really supportive at this time of year.”
Maureen said Alan, who was 68, is very much missed. She said they had a wonderful relationship together.
“It was really two halves together as a whole,” she said.
“I have always got that ache in my heart. It was a beautiful relationship. We were very, very much in love with each other.
“I live on the street where he was murdered and go past the railings every day in my life. It is the railings that get to me.”
Maureen said despite the tragedy she has never considered leaving High Green.
“It never entered my head to move away. After Alan’s death, a number of people said ‘Are you moving?’
“But this house suits me and this neighbourhood suits me. I have never been fearful of going out in the dark and Alan’s murder hasn’t changed that.
“A murder is very different to what normally happens in a place. I feel very secure here, it is lovely.”
Jonathan Bowling, then aged 22, of Carwood Way, Pitsmoor, admitted attacking Alan Greaves with a pickaxe handle and was jailed for life.
Accomplice Ashley Foster, 22, of Wesley Road, High Green, was sentenced to nine years for manslaughter.
Maureen and Alan had set up a community scheme less than one month before his death called St Saviour’s Project – an organisation attached to the church which led to them opening a food bank and charity shop to help needy members of the community.
He had taken early retirement from being a social worker to help his wife’s work for The Church Army, an outreach group for the Church of England.
Maureen said: “I kept coming across so many needs. We kept trying to meet them using our garage and would put extra food in there, beg children’s clothes from friends and so on.
“Alan and I went to the church and said we could create a shop of some sort.
“It only opened three weeks before he was killed.”
Four years on, the scheme has gone from strength to strength under Maureen’s guidance. She said: “The project is doing extremely well.
“We have added an allotment to help people who come to the food bank to grow their own food.
“We are trying to develop it as a community and once a month we eat together.
“The land was very overgrown and we have managed to turn it into three parts – an allotment, a garden and an orchard.
“It has gone from strength to strength.”
Maureen added: “We have more and more people coming to the food bank, which in one sense is a shame. In this day and age it is just unbelievable it is needed.
“We also have more people coming to us for general help.”
Maureen said it is hoped new premises can be found for the project, which is currently based on the second floor of a building with limited room for the variety of activities they run.
“Our great desire is to move out of the building we have got and have a proper shop on ground level where people can come straight in and see us.
“The reality is it is a very, very poor prognosis for us.
“We need it to be in High Green but High Green has only got two roads with shops on them. The turnover of shops is very minimal.
“If there is ever one vacant, it tends to be so small, it is worse than what we have got.
“Getting a shop that would suit our needs and is bigger than what we have got truly would be a miracle.”
* Anyone who wishes to assist the St Saviour’s Project can call Maureen on 0114 2844003.