26 March 2021
Hundreds of blue flares are set to light up the peaks of the Lake District this June in memory of fallen police colleagues.
The Light The Lakes campaign will see members of the public, serving police officers and military staff, as well as emergency workers from across the UK, ascend the 214 Wainwright Peaks in Cumbria to pay tribute to officers who have lost their lives in service since July 2019.
Organiser Vinny Wagijani, a Detective Sergeant with Surrey Police and a Surrey Police Federation Rep, said this year’s event would be particularly poignant given last year’s climb had to be cancelled due to COVID-19.
He’s hoping to raise £40,000 for the police survivor’s charity Care of Police Survivors (COPS) and to spread the word about the emotional and counselling support the charity can provide to grieving police families.
“The event has grown since 2012 when we started with around 200 people and covered around 30 peaks,” Vinny said.
“We’re hoping around 1,000 people will take part this year on 19th June and to have a group on each of the 214 Wainwright Peaks in the Lake District.
“The event aims to pay tribute to officers who have sadly fallen over the past year, and tragically there have been several these past two years, such as Sgt Matt Ratana from the Met and PC Andrew Harper from Thames Valley Police.
“The following day, we’ll meet up again to remember and honour all the officers through speeches and just by getting together.”
COPS is a cause close to Vinny’s heart, having seen friends and colleagues lose loved ones in the line of duty.
Ensuring officers have all the protections they need to stay safe on the front line is also a big part of his Federation duties.
“COPS is such an important charity, and I would certainly want them providing that wrap-around service to my family and loved ones should the worse happen to me,” he said.
“If we can raise the £40,000 this year, it will take us close to raising £100,000 in total from each of the events for the charity.
“They have missed out on a lot of fundraising events this past year, and I know they are grateful to everyone taking part.”
After a night-time climb up each peak, each group will light a blue flare just before dawn at around 3am, creating an amazing light show across the fells.
Vinny’s hoping gold medal-winning Paralympian Rachel Morris will take part in the event, and he’s working with disability charity Freedom Wizard to help wheelchair users climb the peaks too.
As a ticketed sporting event, Light The Lakes will also be conforming to all required at the time COVID rules and regulations and has been approved by Cumbria Police.
For more information and to sign up to take part visit www.lightthelakes.org.uk or follow the campaign on Twitter at @Lightthelakesuk, Instagram @lightthelakes and Facebook @LightTheLakes.
You can support the charity here