I got up early today (5.00am), drove some considerable distance and negotiated my way to the city centre of Manchester using the Metrolink system to partake in the funeral of someone I did not know and had never met. Why would I do that you may ask.
The reason was because I attended the funeral of PC Fiona Bone so needlessly murdered, along with her colleague PC Nicola Hughes a few weeks ago. On such a sad occasion it may seem rather odd to say that I had a wonderful day. Yet I do say it.. and it was just that.
I went because I had to. I went because when I joined the police service over 20 years ago I didn’t join a force or a division or a team. I joined a national family built on honour, trust and integrity. Over 180 years of service and tradition. I wrote about this in my “Emotions” blog last year. Today was another of those days. There is an invisible thread that runs through every single police officer in the country. It joins us all together and whilst we work different shifts, in different counties and different countries we are all tied to it. When one of us falls we all feel it. We all feel the pain. Policing in this country is the best in the world. I’m proud to be a part of it yet the phrase “you never know what’s around the corner” is as true today as it was the day I joined the service.
Today, we stood shoulder to shoulder. Officers from every force in the country stood to show respect and admiration to our two fallen colleagues. We know in our heart of hearts that it could just as easily have been one of us. Yet we didn’t stand alone. We stood with our Ambulance and Fire Service colleagues. We stood with the Royal Military Police and we stood with the public. The strength and depth of emotion and support was palpable.
I have been in many busy cities. The constant noise of activity never fades. Yet today, stood on Deansgate the city fell silent. Thousands of people yet not a sound save the slow gentle tolling of the cathedral bell and the approaching sound of horses hooves leading the cortege. People going about their daily business stopped and stood silent. Office workers stood silently at windows and shops and businesses paused. There on the street the rank and file stood straight and true as guard of honour to one of our own.
During the day I was blessed to meet up with some wonderful people whom I have acquainted on twitter and was able to share the experience of the day with. I list them all below.
There is no getting away from the fact that the dreadful murder of Fiona and Nicola took the wind out of the sails not only of GMP but of the whole service. Yet in our darkest moments we find our greatest strengths. We have rallied, we have pulled together and we have stood strong, together, as a family should. Cut us; we bleed. Wrong us; we hurt. But no matter what you can not take away our pride. We stand strong. We stand undivided. We stand united. The greatest honour we can now show Fiona and Nicola is to pick up our duties where they left off and carry their memory and the fine traditions of British Policing into the future.
Into the freedom of wind and sunshine;
We let you go.
Into the dance of the stars and the planets;
We let you go
Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the star maker;
We let you go
We love you, we miss you, we want you to be happy.
Go safely, go dancing, go running home.