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Alan Greaves described as a devoted family man

Alan Greaves Photo: Family handout

Alan Greaves was described as a quiet, deeply religious man whose life was a total contrast to his violent and senseless death.

Mr Greaves, 68, was devoted to his faith, to his family, to his music and to helping other people.

The tributes to him following his death have painted a picture of a humble, caring and gentle man.

His widow Maureen described him as a "truly selfless person".

His vicar and friend, Canon Simon Bessant, said: "I can simply find no better way to describe Alan than to say that he was a good man."

And his nephew, Matthew Walsh, said: "He seems to personify what it meant to be a true Christian and a human being."

Mr Greaves was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, on July 12, 1944 - an only child.

He was brought up in a house surrounded by music and this became his life-long passion.

Mr Greaves met Maureen in 1969 when they were both training to be residential children's officers for Sheffield City Council.

They married at St John's Church, in the Hyde Park area of Sheffield, in 1972.

They had been married for 40 years when Mr Greaves was killed.

Their four children - Peter, Martin, Alison and Emma - are all now grown up, and they have two twin grandchildren.

Mrs Greaves described how Mr Greaves bought her flowers on the morning he died.

She told the hundreds who gathered for his funeral service: "When I went to thank Alan and give him a kiss, he said to me 'I love you so much Maureen, so much and I'm so glad that I married you'."

She said she knew from the beginning of their relationship she had found her soul mate.

Mrs Greaves, 63, and her husband shared a deep Christian faith.

She said: "The hours that he spent before God shaped his character and made him the truly beautiful man that he was. He was devoted to loving God and loving the people he came into contact with."

Mr Greaves was a stalwart of St Saviour's Church, near his home in High Green, Sheffield, although he also helped out at others in the city.

He was walking to St Saviour's for the midnight service on Christmas Eve when he was attacked.

He was heading there to play the organ, as he had done for 40 years and as he did at countless other services.

Mr Greaves played the organ, clarinet, guitar and piano and also loved singing.

He even enjoyed karaoke - Status Quo or Elvis being his favourites, his family said.

Alan Greaves

Mr Greaves was a quiet, even shy man. People have said he was the "foil" to Mrs Greaves's more outgoing personality. But he had a healthy sense of humour, friends talking of his "legendary" Les Dawson impression.

He was a social worker for 35 years. He took early retirement about eight years before he died because he was getting tired and found it increasingly difficult to keep up with paperwork.

His wife, also a social worker, said he often went "beyond the call of duty" in looking after his clients.

Following his retirement, Mr Greaves threw himself even further into community work and helping his wife with her activities with the Church Army.

He served as a school governor, he played piano for the nearby Angram Bank Primary school, served in the church charity shop, spent hours decorating at the local community project, helped with local choirs and was also a lay preacher.

Just weeks before his death, Mr Greaves had helped establish a new food bank project in High Green.

Mrs Greaves said her husband was generally a very healthy and active person but he had slowed down a bit in recent years and was concerned that arthritis in his hands would affect his keyboard playing.

She spoke movingly at the funeral about how she should react to his killers and described how he had told her in the past not give herself permission to behave badly in situations when she was angry.

On Christmas Day when I sat beside Alan's bruised and battered body, it was only natural that my thoughts would turn to the men who had so cruelly and brutally attacked him.

But, even then, I could hear Alan saying to me 'Maureen, don't give yourself permission'.

– Maureen Greaves

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