A week before Christmas, I happened to be in one of Sheffield's suburban villages - High Green. It is a mixed community with affluence and deprivation sitting side by side. I guess that Alan Greaves (aged 68) belonged to the former category having spent his working life as a social worker. He was comfortably off and like Mr Brague (of "Rhymes with Plague") a church organist. He and his wife did good things in the local community and had recently set up a food bank facility for needy families.
On Christmas Eve, at around 11pm, Alan set off on the short walk from his home to St Saviour's Church on Mortomley Lane. He was to play the church organ at the traditional midnight mass but sadly he never got there for close to Mortomley Park, he was struck to the ground by a pair of young thugs who were no doubt looking for easy money to fund their pathetic lifestyles. I very much doubt they meant to kill Alan but that's what happened. He lay on the pavement leaking blood from a head wound till midnight when a passer-by found him and called an ambulance. But it was too late - this kindly husband, father and grandfather and "quiet man" died a few days later in hospital.
I guess this suburban horror story had even greater resonance for me as I had walked over the very spot where he was attacked just a few days before. He was a good man. a religious man but his goodness was no defence on Christmas Eve. He deserves to rest in peace just as his selfish assailants deserve to rot in prison. I know that the entire High Green community is still grieving over this tragedy but it hurts us all. Never ask for whom the bell tolls...