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A Bridgwater-based road policing unit officer has taken a top accolade at a national family liaison officer (FLO) awards ceremony held in London.
PC Lou Phipps was one of six officers shortlisted from 12 nominations for the prestige Brake road safety charity’s ‘Outstanding Officer Achievement Award’, held at a special ceremony held at the House of Commons last night.
The award went to an officer from Nottingham but Lou and another officer from The Met were ‘highly commended’ from the six FLOs shortlisted. It was clear that the standard of entries was exceptionally high across the board, and the judges had the unenviable task of making their choices in each category.
Her nomination followed her involvement with the Potts family, after Matt Potts was killed following a fail-to-stop incident in Bristol in 2009. The professional relationship that developed was strong enough that Wendy Potts (Matt’s mother), felt empowered to make contact with Lou, after a number of years.
Wendy and her friends wanted to show solidarity and empathy towards the families of those that were killed in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017 and turned to Lou for help.
Lou’s supervisor Sgt Andy Parsons, the force’s family liaison co-ordinator, who nominated his colleague, said: “I’m very pleased that Lou was shortlisted – it was richly deserved. Formal recognition of the excellent work that our family liaison officers do, sometimes goes unnoticed.”
Lou said: “I’m honoured to have been nominated and blown away to have received a Highly Commended in the Outstanding Officer Achievement Award when so many other FLOs have done such a fantastic job without recognition”.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh, said: “The work Louise has done with Wendy Potts and her family following the tragic death of her son Matt is just one example of the many bereaved families that Lou has supported in her role as a family liaison officer.
“She demonstrated the true value of caring and went above and beyond to make this awful situation just that little bit easier for the whole family, not just following the accident but for years after. I know that Matt’s mother Wendy will share my pride in seeing Lou being highly commended. She is an inspiration not only to her fellow liaison officers but to us all.
“Family liaison officers up and down the country volunteer for this very difficult role and dedicate themselves to help families in their darkest hours. I recognise the emotional burden that this often puts on them. I’d like to say well done and I thank them all for their work”.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, said: “Lou went the extra mile to support Wendy Potts following the tragic loss of her son Matt and she made a real difference to the family after the awful accident.
“Family liaison officers have one of the most difficult roles, supporting families and friends in times of turmoil. Lou believes that she was just doing her job but she went above and beyond what is expected of her and that is why she is worthy recipient for this award,” she said.
Mary Williams, Chief Executive at Brake, the road safety charity said: “In the aftermath of a road crash, FLOs provide vital care to families, when they need it most. We were delighted to receive such a high number of exceptional nominations for our second FLO Awards event. It has been inspiring to read so many exemplary accounts of guidance and support.”