Some of our officers are reflecting on a mammoth charity challenge completed to remember police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
From Friday 28 to Sunday 30 July, six of our officers completed the 2023 UK Police Unity Tour.
Doncaster Custody Inspector Simon Gannon, Crime Services Detective Sergeant Simon Taylor, Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Rick Alton, Barnsley PVP Temporary Detective Sergeant Paul Douglas, Sheffield Inspector Kevin Smith and Sheffield Detective Inspector Richard Armstrong took on the unique charity cycling challenge to raise money for Care of Police Survivors (COPS).
This charity supports the families of police officers who have lost their lives on duty and helps them to rebuild their lives.
It sees ‘chapters’ of riders representing police forces all over the country starting from a point in their area and converging on the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, for a poignant memorial service to remember those we have lost.
They were joined for the entire ride by Emma Fields, whose husband PC Dave Fields died whilst on duty in December 2017 and Maria Mead, whose brother PC Matt Lannie died on duty in April 2020.
The riders were also supported along the route by Crime Services Detective Constable Helaine Hardy.
Following the ride, T/ACC Alton looked back on the ride, he said: “We are proud to honour the memory of officers and staff that have passed away on duty. The ride was a great success and we had some laughs throughout the weekend despite the hard work.”
The team joined the North East Chapter, riding from York down to Alrewas across the three days. Friday saw them leave York and cycle nearly 95 miles southwards through Tadcaster, Selby and Rotherham before pausing at the Operational Support Unit complex in Sheffield. Here, Chief Constable Lauren Poultney met them to see them off with family members of those who have died serving South Yorkshire. The team then got back on their bikes and finished the day’s cycling in Worksop, Derbyshire.
Saturday saw them again cycle southwards through Alfreton, Derby and Repton, finishing in Tamworth – a distance of nearly 71 miles. The final day, Sunday, saw them travel just under nine miles to the National Memorial Arboretum for the service.
“The trip to Sheffield on day one was hard but enjoyable,” adds T/ACC Alton. “On arrival at the Ops Complex the welcome shown to the families and the riders was something that was commented on by many through the remainder of the weekend. What you did ensured families had an enjoyable but emotional afternoon. This was especially true when seeing Emma Fields and Marie Mead.
What happened when arriving at Tamworth on Saturday evening is a memory that will remain with T/ACC Alton for the rest of his life.
“We all arrived at Tamworth on Saturday night, meeting other chapters and cycling on to Drayton Manor to meet families and friends. This was a true spectacle with hundreds riding through the streets of Tamworth, something that some have never seen before.
“At Drayton Manor, bands the riders wore in memory of officers and staff who had passed away whilst on duty were handed over to the families. There were some tears, some hugs and some quiet reflection - a real humbling experience.”
There is still time to donate to the North East Chapter’s fundraising total for COPS, a worthy cause. To do so, visit the chapter’s JustGiving page. This can be found here.
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