There were tears and laughter during the Annual Care of Police Survivors (COPS) Service of Remembrance, which 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. It featured a Roll of Honour featuring 27 police officers and staff who had died on duty since everyone last met in July 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 Thames Valley Police officer James ‘Dixie’ Dixon); Shonagh Gawthorne (wife of Fife Temp Sgt Alasdair Ferry); and Ali and Sandi Gibb (parents of Met PC Daniel Gibb) spoke movingly of their loved ones and also of the support the charity COPS offers family members.
Ali recalled the first time they came to the service. “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 at the service. They were followed by more than 400 cyclists from the Annual Police Unity Tour. Riders started their journeys from all across Britain and are expected to raise some £100,000 for the charity.
Date posted: August 23, 2021