2 August 2021
COPS Service of Remembrance: Police Family gather to remember police officers who have died while on duty
The Police Family gathered on Sunday to remember thousands of police officers who have died on duty – and to support family members left behind.
There were tears and laughter during the Annual Care of Police Survivors Service of Remembrance took place at the National Memorial Arboretum – for the first time since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The service was attended by more than 800 people and events took place all weekend for surviving family members.
Leicestershire Police Federation Chair Adam Commons said at the service: “This is my first time attending the service, and it’s quite obvious that this is something so close to everybody’s heart.
“It’s great to have this space to take the time to pay our respects and have a look round and speak to everybody that’s here.”
The Service featured a Roll of Honour sadly featuring 27 police officers and staff who had died on duty since everyone last met in July of 2019.
Their names were read out by COPS President Gill Marshall and included PC Andrew Harper and Sgt Matt Ratana.
Survivors Sam Dixon (wife of TVP officer James ‘Dixie Dixon), Shonagh Gawthorne (wife of Fife officer Temp Sgt Alasdair Ferry) and Ali and Sandi Gibb (parents of Met Officer PC Daniel Gibb) spoke movingly and with good humour recalling their police officer loved one who had been lost on duty and also importantly of the support the Charity COPS offers family members of deceased police officers.
Ali recalled the first time them came to the service 11 years ago. “We cried. We cried. We cried some more. But it was here we met others who understood our pain. No one stared, no one looked at us strangely. Even we were able to smile and have a little laugh in their company. In those 11 years we’ve become stronger.
“We know the love and support we’ve had through contact with COPS Survivors has helped us along the way.”
Sam said: “This is the third survivor weekend I’ve attended and through COPS and attending these weekends I’ve made some invaluable and no doubt lifelong friends. A shared sense of loss that brings us together.
“A union that COPS makes happen and prides itself in creating. A union that isn’t offered elsewhere for our unique circumstances.
The Blue Knights motorcyclists – long-time supporters of the Charity – were first to arrive this morning at the thankfully dry service.
They were shortly followed by more than 400 cyclists from the Annual Police Unity Tour. The bumper event – with riders starting their journeys now from all across Britain – culminated at the Service and is expected to raise some £100,000 for the Charity.
Adam added “It’s so important to make sure we keep supporting the families, those that have lost people in service.
“I’ve been supporting the East Midlands chapter through the weekend. We started at Derbyshire on Friday and I’ve been driving the support van, helping them with the traffic, making sure they’re safe, having all the water, and of course we’ve got the welfare van from the Federation so we’ve had the toilet on board which has been invaluable for everybody, and just trying to make sure everyone’s looked after, fed and watered.
“It’ clear that those taking part in the Unity Tour enjoy doing it, it’s something that’s really close to everybody’s heart and that’s why they keep coming back and doing it every year, to support the people that have lost.”
There were also chief officers from all UK forces and representatives from staff associations among those who took time to honour fallen officers and lay wreaths. The West Midlands Police band and a piper provided accompanying music.