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Priest calls for unity after fatal stabbing

Date: 27 September 2012
THE RECTOR OF A GUILDFORD parish where a teenager was stabbed to death last weekend has appealed to the community to stand together. The Revd Stefanie Hodges of St Francis Church, Westborough, expressed her deep sadness at the death of 19-year-old Jake Bates and urged the wider community not to condemn Westborough. She said: “As a community we have been profoundly shocked and saddened by this loss of life. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Jake’s family as we struggle to imagine the pain they are in and the journey ahead of them. “Our prayers are also with the perpetrator and all of those impacted by Jake’s death.” Talking to members of the community since the incident Stefanie says she has been struck by the resilience of local residents and the need for the community to hold its head high. She said: “I have been talking to some of the young teenagers in the area and one of them remarked on how, they would never have believed something like this could happen around here. “It’s amazing how protective the residents can be of this area especially when others outside want to demonise it. There are some really amazing people here, sadly others outside don’t often see that. “This summer for example we had some wonderful jubilee celebrations with a real community spirit. “I pray that this terrible tragic incident will be the last of its kind and that there will be no reprisals locally. “Westborough has its problems, there is no denying it, but every parish has its problems and I can truly say I am pleased to be part of this community as its local rector.” Members of St Francis Church will say special prayers this Sunday and have a short time of silence in memory of Jake. An 18-year-old man has appeared in court charged with Jake's murder.

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