Mum of murdered Aylsham teen leaves behind a legacy of hope

The new community room in Aylsham Church. Rev Canon Andrew Beane, vicar of Aylsham in the new room.P

The new community room in Aylsham Church. Rev Canon Andrew Beane, vicar of Aylsham in the new room.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

For more than 40 years Molly Long lived with agony and sadness as the mother of an adored only child who was brutally murdered.

Molly Long, pictured in 2004.

Molly Long, pictured in 2004. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

And that distressing legacy might have been the way Mrs Long was remembered in the public mind, following her death in March 2014, aged 88, had it not been for a generous cash legacy she left to Aylsham Parish Church.

St Michael's has used the bequest of nearly £70,000, almost Mrs Long's entire estate, to build the two-storey Molly Long Community Room within the medieval church she loved.

It will be in daily use from the end of this month for everything from toddler groups to Aylsham's Food Bank, choir practice, an after-school club - and Aylsham vicar Rev Canon Andrew Beane is also hoping its upper minstrels-style gallery will be used by singers this Christmas.

Christened and married in St Michael's, Mrs Long had her own daughter, Susan, baptised there too.

Susan Long.

Susan Long. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

The family were weekly worshippers and Susan became a Sunday School teacher at the church.

But her life ended, aged 18, in March 1970 when she was strangled. Her murderer has never been caught.

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Mrs Long, who was widowed many years ago, drew strength from her deep christian faith after the tragedy, immersing herself in Aylsham life, and was an active member of organisations including the Royal British Legion, WI, and Mothers' Union.

She worked as a cook at Aylsham's St Michael's Hospital and at Aylsham High School and was later involved with Aylsham Care Trust lunches, coffee mornings and outings.

Susan Long pictured about a year before she was murdered.

Susan Long pictured about a year before she was murdered. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

At her funeral service in St Michael's Canon Beane described Mrs Long as: '... a caring, faithful, inspiring woman.'

He said his congregation was delighted with their new space, which includes a kitchen and a round oak-panelled turret surrounding a spiral staircase to the upper gallery.

'Susan was a Sunday School teacher here and Molly's room will be used for our children's Sunday club,' he said.

'I think Molly, who loved children, would be overjoyed to know what had been done with her money, and to know that this is the way her family's name will always be remembered.'

Have you got an inspirational story? Contact alex.hurrell@archant.co.uk

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