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COPS Service of Remembrance

1 August, 2018

British Transport
Police Federation
august 1, 2018

COPS Service of Remembrance

Last weekend families from across the UK gathered for the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) annual dinner and Service of Remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum. The charity helps the families of police officers who have lost their lives on duty to rebuild their lives. More than 4000 police officers have been killed on duty.

Debi Rouse represented BTP Federation at both events. Expecting a sombre and respectful weekend - which indeed it is - Debi found herself drawn in to conversations punctuated with laughter and happy memories as families shared stories of their lost loved ones and supported each other as only people who have been through similar experiences can. As she explains, she came away not only understanding more about the work of the charity, but with huge respect for the families it supports:

"Walking into a room full of people was very daunting indeed and I felt like a fish out of water. I tried my best to look comfortable and mingle amongst people that were chatting loudly; some looking as lost as me and others who had obviously attended before, waving and hugging their hellos amongst the throngs.

A woman stood close by asked me if I was looking for the entrance to the dining room. Her name was Geraldine and I joined her and her friends at their table and spent the rest of the evening completely captivated by them. They were all what COPS term 'survivors' - one woman had lost her daughter in a car accident while she was transporting a prisoner, another lost her husband in a knife attack, while one man on our table told me he had lost his dad in a frenzied stabbing incident on a bus.

I asked them so many questions and they all were more than willing to share what had happened to their loved ones and how it had impacted on them. I had imagined the evening might be a little morbid but it wasn't at all. Believe it not for much of the time we laughed so hard with their stories and memories rather than feeling the pain of grief. I am completely blown away by the courage these people have after losing loved ones in horrific, tragic and what could be described as pointless circumstances. All of them so very proud to have known that person, that police officer.

The following day the Service of Remembrance began with the arrival of the Police Unity Tour. These cyclists had ridden 180 miles and raised thousands of pounds for COPS. They brought with them a bracelet of memories that are handed over to individual survivors in the name of their loved one. They were closely followed by the Blue Knights motorcyclists, again raising funds to support the work of the charity. The noise from the powerful engines on a wet and windy day made it even more poignant, the service itself bringing a lump to my throat on more than one occasion.

After the service we lined up to walk "The Beat" the families each taking a red rose to place at the tree of the Force their loved one had served with. Force representatives laid wreaths for all those lost in service at the foot of the tree. Finally, a salute to those who gave their lives for the people we serve and because we are police.

I had no idea just how much COPS does for families who have lost someone, but now I know and believe that this one weekend when they can get together with others that understand is a lifesaver for many. It helps them move on but never forget. I for one am honoured to have joined these inspirational people.

Find out more about COPS by visiting their website or following them on Twitter and Facebook. If you're a cyclist and want to know more about the Police Unity Tour, including how you can get involved, the details can be found here.