Thousands of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty were honoured at today’s annual National Police Memorial Day service in Belfast.
HRH The Prince of Wales, patron of the charity, was among those in attendance at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
He was joined by Home Secretary Theresa May, more than 40 Chief Constables and around 2,000 former colleagues and family members of serving police officers who lost their lives while carrying out their duties.
Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable George Hamilton along with other senior officers from the Service attended today’s National Police Memorial Service.
Speaking afterwards Chief Constable George Hamilton said:
“Today we join relatives, friends and colleagues of fallen officers to show that their commitment to protecting their community has not and will never be forgotten.
“Every day thousands of our officers are out on the streets across Northern Ireland keeping people safe. The memorial service is a reminder to us all that in preventing harm, protecting people and bringing offenders to justice, these brave men and women sometimes pay the ultimate sacrifice.
“It has been a privilege for the Police Service of Northern Ireland to have been able to welcome so many visitors to Belfast for this year's National Police Memorial Day.”
Home Secretary Theresa May gave a reading, and prayers were led by Brian Goodman, father of Special Constable Glenn Goodman, North Yorkshire Police; Cormac Greene, son of Police Officer Part Time Declan Greene, PSNI; Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw, Police Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland.
The Piper’s Lament was played as a wreath was laid by Sergeant Joe Holness QPM to remember those police officers called to service in the First World War who lost their lives in the defence of our country.
During the service, candles were lit by relatives who mourn their loved ones and in remembrance of officers throughout the country who have lost their lives. This year’s candles were lit by Janice Taylor, RUC GC Widows chair; Catherine McVicar, Daughter of Constable Joseph Stewart Drake, Stirling and Clackmannan Constabulary; Heather Allbrook, Sister of Constable Yvonne Fletcher, Metropolitan Police; and Lowri Davies, Daughter of Constable Terence John Davies, Gwent Police.
Terry Spence QPM, Chairman, Police Federation for Northern Ireland, read the names of officers who have lost their lives during the past year. 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.
Speaking about the service and its importance, Widow, Iona Meyer MBE, Secretary of RUC Widows' Association said:
“It is important to come together with what I now call friends from England, Scotland and Wales. It is particularly important this year for us as we were joined by HRH The Prince of Wales. This is such an important day in the policing family calendar as we come together as a united front to remember the sacrifices and dedication of our loved ones.”
Sergeant Joe Holness QPM, Founder of National Police Memorial Day said: “I extend my gratitude to everyone who attended today’s service and for their ongoing support. It is always a day filled with emotion but also with immense pride. It is only right that we stop to remember the sacrifices made by those who protect us. I know it meant a lot to the families and friends of our fallen colleagues to have our Patron The Prince of Wales with us today in Belfast.”