Sincere apology

18 March 2009

by Margaret Duggan

WHEN THE Revd Donald McFadyen went into his church at Bassingbourn (Ely diocese) one Sunday afternoon, the whole place looked as if it was covered in dust. Then he realised that two fire extinguishers, including a powder one, had been set off. The two boys responsible had been seen running away by a neighbour, who recognised one of them. When she contacted his parents he confessed, and the two boys were persuaded to visit the vicarage with the parents to apologise to Mr McFadyen in person.

“I knew it cost the family something to do that,” he said. “We were about an hour talking about it, and the boys asked if there was anything else they could do. I said it would be a good idea if they came into the Sunday service and apologised.” It was not easy for them, and they were very nervous about speaking to the 50 or so members of the congregation. “It made me feel quite emotional,” Mr McFadyen said, “and, talking to other people afterwards, I know they felt it, too.” The boys then agreed to help clean the building.

The incident had been reported to the police, who said that, in the circumstances, they would deal with it “informally”. The boys had “a strict dressing-down from the sergeant”, and were told that the incident would remain on their record if there was any further trouble.

At least one of the boys seems to have taken it to heart, and his parents (seen above with Mr McFadyen)are now occasional members of the congregation.

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