Today, 18th August, is the anniversary of the death in 2012 of Winnie Johnson.
Winnie was known throughout England as the mother of Keith Bennett, the child victim of the moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Despite extensive searching Keith’s body has never been found.
Winnie campaigned tirelessly to find Keith’s grave, and it was this aspect of her life which was well known in the media. However, as we recalled at Winnie’s funeral, at St Chrysostom’s, there was much much more to Winnie. She was a woman who engaged fully with life, and was an inspiration to so many. Despite the tragedy in her life she was cheerful and a direct speaker. She was a member of our congregation, regularly coming to Sunday Mass on her electric scooter and sitting right at the front. She was ever the same, cheerful and frank in her manner. The local community misses her. We miss her at church.
The hanging behind the font in Church is in memory of Keith. He loved to collect leaves and local children drew different leaves and members of the textiles department of Manchester University made the hanging. We hope soon to have a plaque placed in church to remind us of this.
Winnie’s example encourages us to pray for, and have a heart for mothers of the world whose children have disappeared in terrible circumstances.
Winnie’s example encourages us to have courage, and remain faithful and strong in the face of tragedy.
Each Sunday when she came to mass Winnie lit a candle for Keith. Two candles will burn in church today (and prayers will be said by our Walsingham pilgrims too) – one for Keith and another for his mother, Winnie. May they both rest in peace and rise in God’s glory.