28 July 2019
The true value of the support offered to fallen officers’ families was fully evident at this morning’s Care of Police Survivors (COPS) remembrance service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Each year, a number of the loved ones left behind when an officer has died on duty address the service to talk about their loss but invariably about the way in which the peer support offered through the COPS charity had helped them.
This year those taking part in the service included Angela Morgan, fiancée of Derbyshire DC Gary Freeman who died along with DC Anthony Thornley when their vehicle was in collision with a lorry on 19 August 1994.
At the time of Gary’s death, COPS did not exist and Angela talked about the realities of rebuilding her life after losing an officer who went to work one morning and didn’t come home, saying losing her fiancé had broken her heart and nearly broken her due to overwhelming grief.
With the formation of COPS in 2003, Angela had found support from the families of other fallen officers and thanked both the charity and those who took part in the Police Unity Tour, with a special mention for Derbyshire DS Stu Kershaw who rode in Gary’s memory.
Part of her speech took the form of an open letter to Gary in which she revealed the couple’s son, who was just two when his father died, had fulfilled his ambition to join the police and would be starting with the Metropolitan Police Service this September. In her letter, she told Gary: “I hope you will be proud of him.”
Other speakers during the service were George Parker, son of PC Andy Parker (30) of North Wales Police who died in a motorbike crash on his way home from a night shift on 23 September 2005; Greg Lashmar, son of PC Brian Lashmar (39) of the Met, who also died in a crash on his way back from night duty, on 24 January 1989, and Donna Cox, sister of PC Jo-Ann Jennings who was 23 when she was killed in a patrol car responding to a disturbance on 12 November 1989.
Denis Gunn, past president of COPS, read out the names of the officers added to the roll of honour since the last COPS service in July 2018:
Special Agent Nole Remagen (42) of the United States Secret Service, who died on 17 July 2018, two days after suffering a stroke while on presidential protection duty in Scotland;
PC Joseph Cooke (39) of the Met who injured his shoulder while making an arrest. While having surgery on the injury, five months later, he suffered a brain injury which proved fatal on 25 December 2018;
PC Daniel Clayton-Drabble (24) of Thames Valley Police, who was killed in an accident as he drove home from work on 26 December 2018;
PC Kevin Flint (52) of Thames Valley Police who died on 15 January 2019 when his motorbike was in collision with a car as he drove home from work; and
PS Colin Michael Fox of the Metropolitan Police who died on 1 May 2019.
Before the service, those gathered at the arboretum, including Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa and Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton, welcomed first the Blue Knights Motorcyclists and then the cyclists from forces across England and Wales who, despite wet and, at times, windy weather, had completed the Police Unity Tour, a sponsored bike ride of around 180 miles over two days.
This year’s PUT included six riders from Derbyshire:
Malc Shakespeare, a retired officer and now a police staff member, and Stu Kershaw, a DS in the Force’s foreign national offender team, who both took part for the third consecutive year having cycled from London to Staffordshire for the PUT in previous years; Chief Constable Peter Goodman and PC Graham Fish, joining the PUT for the second time, and newcomers Chief Superintendent Dave Cox, the Divisional Commander for the South, and retired officer Tim Smith, who now works in the disclosure unit.
All riders wear a wristband featuring the name of a fallen officer which is presented to the family of that officer where possible at the end of the ride.
For the first time, Derbyshire’s PUT team, which was sponsored by Derbyshire Police Federation and Derbyshire Benevolent Trust, joined the East Midlands Chapter made up of 37 riders from Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.
The riders set off from Leicestershire Police Headquarters on Friday morning after a brief service at its memorial garden and the day’s route took them to Derbyshire’s Ripley HQ for a 2.30pm memorial service and wreath-laying led by the Force chaplain.
A wreath was also laid at the Moto Services in Leicestershire and at Bulwell Police Station in Nottinghamshire.