I blogged yesterday about National Police Memorial Day. I tried to reinforce that NPMD is about our fallen colleagues, their families and their friends. If you’ve read it and are still in any doubt then I implore you to read the following guest blog by Kate Parker. Kate puts into words what I cannot even begin to imagine. Her strength and determination are inspirational and I am truly honoured to be able to host this for her and her wonderful boys.
Loved; Lost; Never Forgotten
Over the last few days, much has been written, tweeted, Facebooked and blogged about the 10th National Police Memorial Day, this year held in Cardiff. Most of what has been written focusses on another subject, but nearly all of them fail to mention the real issue of the day. Here is my story.
On 23rd September 2005, our world disintegrated. My husband, PC Andy Parker of North Wales Police, was killed in a traffic collision whilst returning home to us, deemed a death on duty. I was a widow at 30. Our boys were just 3 and 4 years old. Amongst the harrowing fog of grief over the following months, I came to be aware of National Police Memorial Day. We attended in September 2006, just one year after losing Andy. I hardly know how I ever managed to get us over to Ireland for that weekend, and how I managed to survive it, but I knew I had to go and hear his name read out.
This year, in Cardiff, we attended for the 8th time. Over the years I have seen attendance grow, and this year I think representation from Forces, Federations and rank and file officers was unprecedented. That means a lot to us, it really does. The highlight of the service was an address given jointly by the Reverend Canon David Wilbraham, National Force Chaplain, and Sergeant Joe Holness, founder of National Police Memorial Day. It was entitled “Holding Precious Memories” and reflected on the past 10 years, and lives of those we remember. I was deeply moved by both their words, their own personal feelings of affection for the families was clear to see. They showed a video montage remembering the last 10 years, in which we as a family were incredibly honoured to feature. Seeing Andy’s picture on there, it made me want to tell him – look that’s you!
My youngest boy, now 11 years old, reached over and took my hand. I looked at him, he had tears rolling down his face. I put my arm round him and he sobbed quietly into my shoulder, hot overwhelming tears for his dad. His brother, crying too, took his other hand. Tears of loss and pain, but also immense pride that his dad was being remembered and was not forgotten. He said “I tried to be brave mum, but I cried for my dad”.
National Police Memorial Day is about moments like that. It is the enfolding hug from gentle Joe Holness; the respectful handshake from Chief Officers; the comforting embrace of bereaved families; the falling petals of green and blue during the silence; the ceremonial act of remembrance; the Roll of Honour.
So please, when you hear about National Police Memorial Day, think of these moments. Think of how important this day is to those who matter most – the families. Think of the people behind the headlines, they are my friends. Think of the comfort and pride this day brings to us and our loved ones. Think only of that.
Thank you. I leave you with this, the last verse of a poem read out in the service by my lovely friend Nat Hughes, who lost her much loved step-daughter PC Nicola Hughes last year. It talks about our loved ones never truly leaving us –
“I’m the hot salty tears that flow when you weep
And the beautiful dreams that come when you sleep.
I’m the smile you see on baby’s face
Just look for me, I’m every place.”
image courtesy of Martis Media
You can follow Kate on Twitter @kawgparker