15 March 2022
Metropolitan Police Operational Firearms Commander Barry Calder will share the story of how long Covid changed his life and prompted him to set up the Covid Support Network which helps hundreds of people every day when he gives an input to Derbyshire officers.
He will host a Teams session on Monday 21 March at 1pm with further details available from the Federation office.
Barry, who is also a Police Federation workplace rep, first fell ill in March 2020 after being posted to one of the royal estates in Scotland.
He said: “The first four or five days of it was the sickest I have ever been in my life. My mental health took a battering too.
“Those first few days, I was having really dark thoughts and was convinced I was going to die. After a week or so, I started to improve and a few weeks later I returned to work. But I still didn’t feel right. I was breathless a lot of the time and had terrible, and extreme, fatigue.
“I carried on with my day job and being a Fed rep, but I was struggling. It got to the point where I was driving into work and I would sit in the car, breaking down into tears. And slowly, it got worse and worse. I was pushed, thankfully, into getting help.
“I went off sick and had counselling. I was in and out of the hospital – back then the doctors realised there was something wrong but they just weren’t sure what it was.
“They called it a post-Covid syndrome. The mental health implications have really thrown me, as I had never experienced problems with this before. I felt really alone and I didn’t know what was wrong.”
Barry said his involvement with the support group had saved him and could do the same for others who may need its help.
He said: “I wouldn’t be in the place I am now if it hadn’t been for the peer support group. Just being able to chat has made a huge difference for me.”
Inspector Ellen Lovatt urged members to try to attend the online event.
She said: “If I had to describe Barry in policing terms, I would say that he is an inspirational and understated action man who has been at the very sharp end. His story is very interesting.
“Whether you have experienced Covid or another illness, I would recommend you try to join us for this session. You may be able to give support to a friend or colleague who is ‘just getting on with it’ and could actually do with a little help but doesn’t want to ask.”