UK COPS 2014 – An Appeal
Yesterday I had the great honour and privilege to attend the 10th Annual Memorial Service for UK Care of Police Survivors ( @UK_COPS ) a charity which does all it can to help the families of those who have fallen in the line of duty.
I first heard about UK COPS after the murders of PC’s Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone and since then I have heard some amazing stories of the work they do to support people.
Having followed them for almost a year now I was aware of their many charity events, their social gatherings, the network they offered each other and the driving lessons they pay for as the children of fallen officers reach 17.
Yesterday, the true impact of what they do struck me squarely between the eyes as I heard testimony from family members during the event.
The service was not religious in any way. Instead it was poignant in a different way. There were no readings from scripture but what we heard was family members standing up, sharing their experiences and explaining how the charity had helped them through the difficult times.
UK COPS’ motto is “rebuilding shattered lives” – there was evidence of this in abundance yesterday.
Helen Walker spoke of the loss of her husband Mac and her 10 years with COPS.
Andy Cooper spoke of his pride in his son PC Daniel Cooper.
PC Paul Terry talked of the loss of his brother Ian and how the siblings are often the last people anyone thinks to comfort.
All the speakers spoke passionately and movingly but it was when young Nathan Dent stood up to speak the the work of UK COPS really hit home.
Nathan had prepared a speech about the tragic loss of his father and having bravely started it was understandably overcome by emotion.
What happened next was enough to restore your faith in human nature. Nathan was hugged by COPS president Sue Brace and she finished off the speech.
But they were Nathan’s words and he spoke of how he had been told of his father’s death. How lonely and empty he had been and how UK COPS had become somewhere he could share experiences with kids his own age who had been through the same thing.
It was an incredible piece of writing which touched me and everyone else there very deeply.
You could see the love in the room. The love between the families within the charity. What they mean to each other. Genuine, heartfelt love.
Even for a hardened cynical cop it was a moment I will never forget.
There it was personified – compassion.
The importance of the work the charity do had been illustrated to all of us.
Rebuilding shattered lives? You bet they do!
It was pleasing to see so many senior ranking officers. I think all the forces including PSNI and Police Scotland were represented.
It is absolutely right and proper that the Chiefs were there to honour the fallen and their families.
However, without any disrespect to ACPO’s vital presence, it was a bit “ACPO-heavy”.
What I mean by that, purely and simply, is that more front line officers and Fed Reps should go to increase the uniform presence.
The Staffordshire Cadets were there and they did a magnificent job. A credit to themselves, their trainers, their force and the whole police service. The future of the service was right there.
Equally, there were numbers of Special Constables who had come to police and support the event.
What was missing was the rank and file – in numbers.
The point was made that not enough people know of the work of UK COPS and that is why I would like to make this public appeal.
To ACPO – I would ask your members to publicise the work of this important charity who step in when the worst happens. Serving officers need to know much more about them and what they do. Please would you consider ways to promote and support them through the year?
To the Staff Associations – Supers and Fed – are you able to do the same? Could the Fed send representatives from every force next year?
This is a different event and a different concept from National Police Memorial Day. That in itself is a massively important show of love and remembrance but UK COPS work intimately with the families of the fallen. We should support them as they do.
To front line officers – next year, Chaos and myself have made it our mission to get 100 uniformed rank and file officers to form a Twitter supporters Guard of Honour.
The date is the 20th July 2014. Staffordshire is about as central as you can get and it would mean so much to the families to see that those still serving have not forgotten them or their missing loved ones.
This invitation extends to the public as well. It has been said many times recently that the police are the public and the public are the police – please come and show your support to the families next year. You will be most welcome.
Bizarrely, despite the solemn nature of the event yesterday we had a lot of fun. That includes the families of those who have lost husbands, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. There were many smiles amongst the tears and this helped illustrate just how together we can ALL help rebuild shattered lives.
So many families spoke to me after to say how much it meant that serving colleagues had come.
Please – join us – help us make next year bigger and better again.
Let us show our family that they are still family. That they always will be and that they will never be forgotten.
There are two other groups who made a phenomenal effort to support the event and who will no doubt be doing the same.
The Blue Knights who rode in on an impressive and noisy convoy of motorcycles – setting quite the spectacle.
The Police Unity Tour who were a team of cyclists who rode from the London Police Memorial to the Arboretum (170 miles) to raise money for the cause. They will be looking for riders next year! Some came from the USA to join in this year!
You can learn more about the important work of UK COPS here