Police Federation

We Ride for those who died - Police Unity Tour 2023

For the past 11 years the Police Unity Tour has brought hundreds of officers from all forces together to pay respects to their fallen colleagues.

7 August 2023


For the past 11 years the Police Unity Tour has brought hundreds of officers from all forces together to pay respects to their fallen colleagues.

For officers around the country, the last weekend in July is one of the first booked as leave each year.

Image courtesy of Thomson Duff

The event is a cycling tour with  each regional chapter cycling at  least 200 miles to the National  Memorial Arboretum, raising  money for Care of Police   Survivors (COPS), a charity that  supports the families of fallen officers.

The tour concludes with a service of remembrance attended by survivors, police officers and the wider police family. The weekend is an emotionally charged tribute to fallen officers that unites police forces across the country and this year was no exception.  

Forces around the country are divided into chapters, there are 12 chapters across the UK. Each chapter takes a different route to the Memorial Arboretum and most take three days in total.

There are some chapters however that cover considerable distances and start earlier in the week. Saturday afternoon is where the chapters first convene, and they do so at the Tamworth Snowdome.

Once all together the 400-strong procession of cyclists make their way to Drayton Manor theme park where bereaved families of fallen officers are treated to an exclusive day at the park.

Image courtesy of Thomson Duff

Upon the arrival of the tour at Drayton Manor, a ceremony is held before the chapters separate again for the evening. The final day of the tour is marked with a memorial service at the National Police Memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum.

This year more than 300 bereaved family members attended the service with more than 1,200 people attending in total to pay their respects.

Police motorcycle club the Blue Knights kicked off proceedings with a procession of more than 200 motorcycles. They were followed by around 400 police officers who had cycled the length and breadth of the country to raise money for COPS.

Each rider and support team member wore a bracelet with the name of a fallen officer from their chapter engraved - each year these are given to the families to show their officers are never forgotten.

The event, now in its 11th year, has raised more than £1.2 million for the charity. The tour saw new riders this year including survivors, who were keen to join the tour and raise money for COPS who supported them through their personal tragedy.

Image courtesy of Thomson Duff

During the service the Roll of Honour paid tribute to the officers who died on duty during the past 12 months. We heard stories from; Caroline Cox – sister of Inspector Mark Estall who died suddenly at the Essex Police operational policing command base in Chelmsford on January 5, 2017, and Katy McMurray – daughter of Police Constable Alan McMurray who died on February 4, 2006, after being struck by a vehicle at the scene of an RTC.

The service was closed by police whistles followed by a flyover by a National Police Air Service helicopter dipping its nose above the families to salute and honour the fallen officers.

Image courtesy of Thomson Duff

COPS Chief Executive Tim Buckley said: “This annual event for the families of officers that die on duty is an extraordinary affirmation of the power of people to rebuild their shattered lives. This year marked our 20th anniversary, and we brought more survivors together than ever to remember and celebrate their fallen officers.

“Seeing the bonds of peer support and life-long friendships forged through the pain of such a terrible loss is the whole reason COPS exists, and it is a privilege and honour to be part of the charity and this experience.”

Christine Fulton MBE, survivor, co-founder and life vice president, said: “When we started Care of Police Survivors, we never imagined it would be a big charity. We thought it would just be the recently bereaved wanting to be involved. And it took us quite by surprise how families would contact us for officers' deaths from such a long time ago.”

Image courtesy of Thomson Duff

Following the service, colleagues, friends and families walked together down ‘The Beat’ a promenade lined with trees dedicated to fallen officers from every UK police force. It is usually here where those who held it together during the service can no longer hold in their emotions and the reality and grieving of those who have lost officers comes to the surface.

The dates for next year’s tour are already confirmed as the 26-28 July.

Details of how to sign up can be found here.

Such is its growing success; the demand for places and wish to support the tour has become overwhelming and so the UK tour has now formed a number of chapters in line with the American tour.

We ride for those who died. We will never forget them.

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