The mother and sisters of murder victim Billy Dove say they’re taking a step back from fundraising in the 21-year-old’s memory so that they can grieve in private.
Thousands of pounds have been raised following the shocking death of the trainee mechanic in November 2011.
And that cash has been used by Billy’s mum Anne Grillo and his two sisters Jodie Grillo and Lucy Taylor to help ensure other youngsters do not face the same fate.
Popular Billy was brutally stabbed when a row erupted in Hemel Hempstead’s town centre and he tried to break up a fight.
Under the banner of the Billy Dove Memorial Fund, which is completely separate to the Billy’s Wish charity set up by Billy’s father Paul, teenagers from four local secondary schools were taken, along with teachers, to the hard-hitting Ben Kinsella Knife Crime Awareness Exhibition in London.
Jodie said: “If it makes them stop and think for a while and stops any family going through what we have gone through, then I think that is our job done.
“We just don’t want any family to go through what we have been through because it destroys so many lives and nothing is going to bring him back.”
The fund, which is not a registered charity, has paid for a bench in Billy’s memory to be installed in Boxmoor opposite the Steamcoach pub, funded football jackets for a Hemel U9s team and will help pay for costly medical treatment for a mum who is battling cancer.
Cash has also been granted to Dacorum’s four council-run adventure playgrounds.
At Adeyfield and Chaulden the cash was spent on disco equipment, at Grovehill the money paid for a new skateboard and scooter ramp and the Bennetts End playground splashed out on equipment for a new after-school homework club. Anne said: “Hopefully it will keep the kids from hanging around on the streets.”
Plaques dedicated to Billy have been put up at all four adventure playgrounds and Jodie hopes that it may remind some youngsters of the consequences of knife crime and could help steer them away from future trouble.
The money, which has helped so many local groups, was raised through a fun day held in Billy’s honour last year, which raised more than £10,000, a moving lantern release held at the town centre site where Billy met his death, the sale of car stickers and around 8,000 wristbands inscribed with RIP Billy Dove, Forever In Our Hearts and donations from community organisations.
Billy’s family has also sponsored one of his friends, up and coming mixed martial arts fighter Ed Arthur, who needs backing so that he can spend more time in the gym pursuing his passion and less time doing his day job as a scaffolder.
But now the heartbroken family feel the time is right to take a step back from fundraising in Billy’s name.
Jodie said: “We just want to live with our memories now and know that he is safe, wherever he may be. We have done everything possible that we can do. Just let him rest, but thank you to everyone. We can’t thank them enough.
“Now it is time to let him rest in peace and remember the good times.”
Anne believes that courts must be able to hand out tougher sentences to help stem knife crime.
And she is planning to take Prime Minister David Cameron to task on the issue.
She said: “We know we are not going to stop knife crime, it is too big.
“I wrote to David Cameron and he wrote back to me personally, saying there would be tougher penalties.
“That’s a complete lie and I’m going to write to him again.”
She also says that youth clubs for older teenagers are needed to keep them off the streets.
“These boys were 17 and 18, they had nothing to do, just hanging around and looking for trouble.”
Billy’s sister Jodie Grillo added: “Nobody will ever stop knife crime, you need tougher laws – if you get caught with a knife you should do five years no matter what.”