Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom says the National Police Memorial Day (NPMD) service yesterday showed the policing family at its very best.
The annual remembrance service came two days after Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matiu (Matt) Ratana was shot dead at a Croydon custody centre.
Liz said: “It’s always a moving and emotional day, but more so this year coming so soon after the tragic death of Sgt Ratana. The tragic incident on Friday served to remind us why National Police Memorial Day is such an important occasion for the policing family and the country to remember those who have given their lives in the line of duty.
“A lot of work went into ensuring the service could go ahead, despite the pandemic.
“Our fallen officers represent the very best of policing and I think NPMD showed the policing family at its finest, coming together to remember family, friends and colleagues.”
This year’s service had been due to take place at Lincoln Cathedral but was held online because of coronavirus restrictions. The annual event commemorates and honours the lives and service of police officers killed in the line of duty.
This year the tributes were led by HRH The Prince of Wales, patron of NPMD, who made an address ahead of the online service.
Prince Charles said: “I particularly wish to remember those officers who have so tragically lost their lives since we met in Glasgow last year.
“The dreadful incident in Croydon on Friday is the latest heart-breaking evidence of the risks faced by our officers daily.
“I would like to send my deepest sympathy to the families of each of these officers who have given their lives.”
The Reverend Canon David Wilbraham, the National Police Chaplain and co-ordinator for National Police Memorial Day, led the online service.
He said: “The Trustees of National Police Memorial Day would not let this day pass without finding a solution to honour loved ones, friends and colleagues lost in service.
“Today is so important to the many who make the annual journey to join to support each other and commemorate those who gave us their all. Not being able to meet physically leaves a void, especially for those whose pain is life-long. I am immensely proud that we pulled together to try to fill that void with our online service and I thank the families who contributed.
“This is an honourable day and a poignant reminder of the dangerous nature of policing. We stand in virtual solidarity to pay our respects.”
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, gave a reading of The Beatitudes and expressed her personal gratitude to police officers and staff for their “selfless work”, adding that those courageous officers who made the ultimate sacrifice would “never be forgotten”.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, sent a video expressing his support and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, gave a blessing.
John Apter, national Federation chair, said: “Policing comes with a huge amount of risk and this is at the forefront of our minds, even more so following the devastating news on Friday when our colleague in the Metropolitan Police was killed.
“National Police Memorial Day ensures that police officers who gave their all are never forgotten. We must always remember them – their commitment and ultimate sacrifice to public service.
“Every day police officers selflessly put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others – I thank them, and I am proud to represent them.”
The British Police Symphony Orchestra played ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’, with more than 60 musicians who recorded their contributions while in isolation.
Speakers from the four corners of the UK talked about what the memorial day means to them.
They included Louie Johnston, son of Reserve Constable David Johnston of the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross, who was taken in 1997, aged 30.
He said National Police Memorial Day was an occasion to “look past the uniform and to celebrate the character, the memories and the special place that our loved ones will always have in our hearts”.
Jayne and Lowri Davies, the widow and daughter of PC Terry Davies of Gwent Police, who died in 1990, aged 34, recalled attending the inaugural NPMD, not knowing what to expect but finding it a “wonderful day” and a source of comfort. Lowri is now a serving officer with Gwent Police and wears her father’s collar number.
Rumbie Mabuto, widow of DC Joe Mabuto of Thames Valley Police, who died in 2016, aged 42, said the event is something her family looks forward to each year.
She said: “We’re grateful for the support we receive and hope everybody will be able to meet again next year.”
Donna Alcock, widow of PC John Alcock of Grampian Police, injured in 2003 and who died in 2017, aged 54, said: “When they say police are a family there is no truer statement.”
Candles were lit to represent the four nations of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and to remind everyone of the flame of devotion and commitment, exemplified by those whom the service remembers.
England was represented by Lissie Harper, widow of PC Andrew Harper of Thames Valley Police, who died on 15 August 2019, aged 28. Lighting a candle for Wales was Rebecca Davies, daughter of PC Terry Davies of Gwent Police, and for Northern Ireland, Louie Johnston. Scotland’s candle was lit by its Chief Constable, Iain Livingstone QPM.