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Community Left Shocked by Trial of 'Popular Man Who Did Good Work'

The Sentinel
February 8, 2012

http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Community-left-shocked-trial-popular-man-did-good/story-15166820-detail/story.html

COMMUNITY leaders and parishioners in Cheadle and Alton, where Bede Walsh served as parish priest were stunned by the verdicts.

Many members of his former congregations have continued to support and pray for him.

Alton parishioner Stella Heritage, of Castle Hill Road, said: "People are completely shocked and there are a lot of people who support him and do not believe what has come out at his trial. In my dealings with him as parish priest I could not fault him."

Ray James, pictured right, who was mayor of Cheadle in 1996, said Walsh had won acclaim after organising discos in the town, which got bored youngsters off the streets.

He said: "I thought at that time and still do that he did a lot of good work for Cheadle. He was a very popular man.

"There was nothing for children in Cheadle at that time. He put on discos which became so popular they attracted up to 400 children and they were coming from as far as Stoke-on-Trent.

"What he did for the kids was marvellous."

Father-of-two Ernest Vernon, a former governor at St Giles Catholic Primary School in Cheadle, said people were shocked Bede had abused his position of trust.

He said: "Children at schools like St Giles, who are brought up as Catholics, would place their utmost faith in a person in such an influential position. They would have looked on him as a figurehead.

"The overall reaction is one of shock. It is astonishing to think that something like this could happen in our community."




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