To celebrate 100 years of the Police Federation and NARPO (National Association of Retired Police Officers), Avon and Somerset Police recently unveiled the newly redesigned Memorial Garden at the Police and Fire headquarters in Portishead.
The Garden was redesigned in recognition of the 99 police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty throughout the history of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, and is an important and special place for the Police force’s officers, staff and their families to reflect and remember those officers and staff members who have fallen.
The entire area has been redesigned, replanted and a new stone memorial was revealed at a ceremony attended by senior officers, families of fallen officers, as well as a number of dignitaries including Annie Maw, Lord Lieutenant of Somerset; Maggie Cameron, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Bristol; Jane Jenner-Fust, Vice Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire; Charles Wyld, High Sheriff of City of Bristol; Charles Berkeley, High Sheriff of Gloucestershire; and Johnnie Halliday, High Sheriff of Somerset.
Force Chaplain, Revd Andy Paget led a formal act of remembrance to round off the ceremony before family members of fallen officers were invited to place a white rose at the foot of the memorial stone.
At the unveiling, Chief Constable Andy Marsh, said: “The presence of the many people here today demonstrates how important policing is to the community and it means a lot to everyone at Avon and Somerset Constabulary and all the families here.
“Thanks to everyone who has helped to refurbish the Memorial Garden. The garden had started to look tired and I’d like to thank the Police Federation, NARPO and our volunteers who have worked hard to make this an accessible, sunny, dignified and beautiful place to remember people who’ve lost their lives serving the communities of Avon and Somerset.
“The most important people here today are the families and loved ones of the officers and PCSOs that have been lost whilst serving the people of Avon and Somerset.
“Being Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset is a great privilege for me because it feels like my family, it’s a very personal thing.
“Loss touches us in lots of ways – people we remember today, people we’ve served with. As Chief, probably the most painful thing I have to do is support the families of those who have had terrible accidents or indeed been lost.”
The Chief Constable also thanked Federation Chair, Andy Roebuck, who’s been a driving force behind the complete redesign and development of the Memorial Garden, helped by a gang of volunteers from the Federation, NARPO and Avon and Somerset Police. The Garden was designed by volunteer Mary Payne.
Pete Land on behalf of the Police Federation, added: “It’s my honour to welcome you all here today. 100 years of the Police Federation and National Association of Retired Police officers is a massive milestone in poling today – and this Memorial Garden is also a significant part of our history. Most importantly, it’s a chance to recognise the contribution of those officers we’ve lost over time. It’s a recognition of their work, their dedication and their desire to help our communities. There are 99 people on this list and it’s important that we acknowledge, recognise, thank them, but never forget them. We hope this garden is something everyone can be proud of; somewhere we can all use as a place of reflection and positive wellbeing.”
Annie Maw, Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, commented: “Policing is a great vocation. It’s work that involves officers putting their lives at risk and being very courageous without question. As a representative of both The Queen and the public, I’d like to say thank you very much for all that you do. This Memorial Garden is a wonderful way to remember those we’ve lost and to take solace, and I’m honoured to be here today.”