Thousands honoured at National Police Memorial Day in Belfast
Secretaries of State and Police Chiefs joined a congregation of almost 2,000 at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall today, Sunday 24 September, and stood to remember officers who gave their lives in service – many in horrific circumstances.
Family members participated in the service, which poignantly honoured fallen officers’ commitment, courage, and sacrifice.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who gave a reading during the service, said:
“To all the officers who lost their lives while working to keep us safe, we thank you and we honour you. Their bravery and commitment to their duty was unfaltering – society owes them and their loved ones a debt we cannot repay, but it is one we will not forget.
“As Home Secretary I make a promise to give police the powers and tools they need to do their jobs safely.”
Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Northern Ireland Secretary, said:
"The Government owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the brave men and women of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland for their tireless work to keep the people of Northern Ireland safe.
"It was an honour and a privilege to attend today’s annual National Police Memorial Day service, hosted in Belfast, and to join relatives and colleagues of fallen officers, along with UK Government colleagues.
"It is right and proper that we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in their duty of protecting the wider community. We thank them and service personnel from across the UK for their service and dedication."
Chief Constable Simon Byrne said:
“It is a huge privilege for Belfast to host this year’s National Police Memorial Day and to welcome many visitors to our city. Today’s event was a humbling and moving experience in what has been an extraordinary few weeks following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“It was an honour to have the opportunity to meet with many families from Northern Ireland and across the United Kingdom and to remember their loved ones who have paid the ultimate price in service of their communities.
"It is right and fitting that we take a moment each year to reflect and remember the loss of those who went before us and others who continue to put the safety of others above their own. Their sacrifice, commitment and dedication to their duty must never be forgotten.”
During the service, prayers were said by family members, including Stephen Bromilow, father of PC John Edward Bromilow, Lancashire Constabulary, aged 23, who died on 18th August 1979 in a road traffic collision while escorting a prisoner.
Karen Dodd, daughter-in-law, and Jemima Dodd, granddaughter, of Inspector Stephen Dodd, Metropolitan Police, who was fatally injured on 17th December 1983 when police received reports of a bomb inside a car parked outside Harrods. As officers began to investigate reports of the device it exploded. Stephen died a few days later from his injuries.
Paul Slaine QPM, Royal Ulster Constabulary, was the driver of an armoured police car attacked by terrorists. The observer in the vehicle, Constable Colleen McMurray, died in the early hours of 28th March. Paul spent almost eight months in hospital. On 12th April 2000, he was chosen to accept the George Cross from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on behalf of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
Richard Haigh, son of Police Constable David Ian Haigh, North Yorkshire Police, who died 17th June 1982, found fatally wounded by colleagues who had become concerned when he didn’t answer his radio. He was shot in the head at Norwood Edge Plantation near Harrogate.
During the service, candles were lit by relatives in remembrance of officers throughout the country who have lost their lives, one from each of the four nations of the United Kingdom.
Representing Northern Ireland, Stephen Wylie-Young, son of Constable William Raymond Wylie QPM, 25 years, Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross, [Stephen was six months old when his father was murdered].
Constable Wylie was shot dead, and his colleague fatally wounded when they were ambushed by terrorists as they checked a suspicious car in County Antrim.
Representing Wales, Sergeant Lowri Davies, daughter of PC Terence John Davies, 34 years, Gwent Constabulary, who died of injuries received whilst he was cycling home after a tour of duty at Maindee, when he was hit by a stolen vehicle which failed to stop
Representing Scotland, George Barnsley, friend and colleague of DS William Ross Hunt, 56 years, Strathclyde Police, died 5th June 1983. Whilst attempting to arrest a man for serious assault DS Hunt was fatally stabbed when members of the suspect’s family attacked him and other officers.
Representing England, Kat Dumphreys, widow of PC Nick Dumphreys, 47 years, who died 26th January 2020 having sustained fatal injuries when the police vehicle he was driving was in a single vehicle collision on the M6.
Liam Kelly, Chair, Police Federation for Northern Ireland read the names of officers who have lost their lives during the past year – PC Daniel Golding, Metropolitan Police, PC Craig Higgins, Greater Manchester Police, PC Alex Prentice, Northamptonshire Police, and PC Darryl Street, Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
Mr Kelly said:
“We are delighted to welcome National Police Memorial Day back to Belfast. The event is an opportunity to honour those officers who died in service and, from our perspective, to remember our colleagues who paid the ultimate price so that today we can benefit from the peace, however imperfect, that has transformed Northern Ireland society.
"National Police Memorial Day is an occasion to reflect and celebrate the best in policing not only in Northern Ireland but throughout the United Kingdom. Day and daily, we see officers stepping up to the mark to safeguard communities and, sadly, on occasion, some officers are injured or lose their lives in the execution of their duties.
"This weekend, we say to assembled families that the police ‘family’ recognises, appreciates, and empathises with what you are experiencing and will never forget the sacrifices your loved ones made.”
There was silence as petals of remembrance, representing all who have lost their lives, descended from the gallery as the orchestra played ‘Abide with me’ and the Last Post was sounded.
Canon David Wilbraham MBE, National Police Chaplain and Co-ordinator of National Police Memorial Day said:
“This is the first time the National Police Memorial Day family has been able to gather in remembrance since the pandemic. Today we held those lost in honour - their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”