On the 27th December 2007 we lost our dear son Robert. Like many young people in Bedford he was out for the night to enjoy himself in the clubs with someone he was close to. Unfortunately, just at the wrong time he got separated from the person he was with. He became ill and was ejected from the club. Outside there was a small group of lads looking for someone vulnerable to rob and our Robert fell into their hands. They tried to rob him using the ATMs down the High Street but there was insufficient money in his account so he couldn’t withdraw any to satisfy them. They didn’t believe him – they treated him badly and perhaps to scare him or out of spite they threw him in the local river where he drowned.
This is an extreme example but a real one of the sort of thing that can happen when drink takes over. They had all been drinking.
A few months later, while the murder investigation was under way, we were invited to meet the Bed:Safe group. We were also told that Christians in the area, led by Major Ian Loxley of the Salvation Army, were looking for ways to address the awful situation in Bedford Town centre on Saturday nights. We were invited to join them around the time that Street Angels was chosen as the preferred way to minister to people who were in need of help while out clubbing and to help keep them safe. Although we were viewed with some scepticism at first, Street Angels have proved themselves to be effective and valuable in this mission. We also look out for homeless people and are pleased to take any opportunity that arises to share the hope and faith that we have which leads us to do such a crazy thing as go out in the middle of the night to help others who many consider to be a nuisance or just irresponsible.
We consider ourselves privileged to be part of such a dedicated group of Christian people who give up so much of their time and effort to show the love of Christ in this way, late at night on the streets of Bedford. It is encouraging to be part of the national organisation, Christian Nightlife Initiatives. This is the umbrella organisation which covers Street Angels as well as a number of other Christian initiatives that are committed to similar causes.
Fred and Fran Gill, March 2017