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Memorial to honour fallen officers to be unveiled at ceremony

The 12-metre-tall brass memorial is a commemoration to all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty as well as a “celebration of British policing”.

Years of charity fundraising events and lobbying have culminated in a ceremony to formally mark the official police memorial.

Officers and staff from across the UK who have died while protecting the public will be commemorated in a memorial to be unveiled next Wednesday (28 July 2021) at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The Arboretum is home to almost 400 memorials, including the National Armed Forces Memorial, and attracts over 300,000 visitors per year.

The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust was established in March 2014 to raise funds to pay for the construction of the memorial. After a six-year fundraising campaign, ground-breaking for the Memorial took place in June 2020, carried out by the fathers of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes killed in Manchester by gangster Dale Cregan in 2012.

The Memorial was constructed throughout the latter half of 2020 and the early part of 2021. Walter Jack (Walter Jack Studios) was the architect and the landscaping is designed by Charlotte Rathbone (Rathbone Partnership).

Since 1749 and the establishment of the Bow Street Runners as the country’s first recognised police force, almost 5,000 officers and staff have died whilst policing communities in more than 1,500 acts of violence.

Sir Hugh Orde, Chair of the Police Arboretum Memorial Trust, said: “Next Wednesday will be a historic day for our police service. After seven years of fundraising and 12 months of construction, we can finally dedicate this beautiful and iconic memorial that pays tribute to the courage and sacrifice of all those police officers and staff who have paid the ultimate price.

“The 12-metre-tall brass memorial, with its leaf shaped apertures representing courage, sacrifice and lives lost, is set within a beautifully landscaped area, and has been designed for ceremony, tribute and personal acts of reflection.

“As a nation, we owe all those who have laid down their lives to keep us safe and protect us from harm a huge debt of gratitude. This memorial will ensure that the memory of those officers and staff who have died lives on in perpetuity.”

The Trust is limiting guest numbers to 400 because of Covid-19. Attendees will include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the leader of each party, the first Minister of Scotland, the Prince of Wales and representatives from all forces across the country, policing charities and the families and friends of officers killed on duty.

Nicola’s father Mr Hughes told Police Oracle: “It's going to quite a tribute and nothing less than what they all deserve. And I think once people see just how much time and effort has gone into it they'll appreciate it more.”

The ceremony will commence with a fly past by the National Police Air Service. During the service there will be performances by mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins and the British Police Symphony Orchestra, plus a minute silence to remember the fallen. The Prince of Wales will unveil a plaque and say a few words, before leading the laying of wreaths at the foot of the memorial.

The public can view the dedication ceremony and participate remotely by logging on to the memorial website from midday on Wednesday, 28th July 2021 and visiting the ‘Dedication Ceremony’ page.

Sir Hugh told Police Oracle support from donors and benefactors, the service, government and the public has been "huge".

“I think reflects the affection in which British Policing is held,” he said.

“This is a place that will not only honour the courage and sacrifice of the men and women from our police service, but it will become a fitting tribute to honour all those who continue to serve.”

Sir Hugh, previously chief constable of Northern Ireland, the only armed service in the UK, also said the memorial made a wider statement around British Policing model.

“The fact that 80/90 per cent of cops still remain unarmed is quite extraordinary,” he said.

“It just makes one sort of step back and when you see what these officers do, most of them without a gun and stepping into these dangerous places, it really brings all that home.”

Mr Hughes said he was pleased that the Memorial is situated at the Arboretum because of the amount of people who are likely to come by it.

“And the more exposure they get from general public reading stories that eventually know the names on the wall, that will mean more - there's legacies and names and stories that will continue long, long after we're gone and, and people in 50 years’ time will think 'I wonder who Nicola Hughes was, I wonder who Fiona Bone was, I wonder who Keith Palmer was'.

“I think he's quite fitting that should be there and open to everybody to see.”

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