Today’s columnist, Neil Bowles: paying the ultimate price

National Police Memorial Day service at York Minster
National Police Memorial Day service at York Minster
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I write this as I hear of another colleague, although from the Garda in the Irish Republic, who has been killed on duty.

Anthony Golden, a father of three was shot dead after attending a report of domestic violence.

Only last week we mourned the loss of Dave Phillips in Merseyside, and watched the heart-breaking pictures of his family coming to terms with their loss.

Police officers go to work every day not knowing what they may have to do during their shift; what they may witness; what they may have to investigate; whether they will have to tell someone they have lost their loved one; who they may have to comfort and support; who or what they may have to confront, to keep the public, their colleagues and themselves safe.

They leave home and their loved ones with the possibility they may not return. The partners and children maybe saying goodbye for the last time.

Two weeks ago, the Chief Constable and I attended the 12th National Police Memorial Day (NPMD) in Edinburgh, to represent South Yorkshire Police and its officers.

It is one day where the forces of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom gather to remember our colleagues and their families who have paid the ultimate price.

More than 4,000 officers have died on duty since the records were started. The First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon attended as did the Home Secretary, Theresa May.

However, this service is only possible due to the fundraising efforts of a serving officer Joe Holness.

NPMD is a registered charity whose patron is HRH The Prince of Wales. You would have thought the state would pay for this annual remembrance of police officers who have served the public with their lives?

On a brighter note, the Police Federation of England and Wales celebrate the bravery of our officers in a couple of weeks at the National Police Bravery Awards in London.

Each branch can nominate one or more of their members for the regional and national awards. Our nominees and their partners are invited to a reception at Downing Street, where they will meet the Prime Minister and Home Secretary; then they attend an awards ceremony in the evening.

The nominee for South Yorkshire this year is Paul Sheridan, a sergeant based at Doncaster.

His bravery was not on duty, tackling a violent offender. His bravery occurred whilst off duty, on holiday trekking in the Himalayas.

Last October as Paul started out on a 13-day adventure, the weather closed in and the whole area was hit by severe blizzards. It was a white-out – unable to tell where the difference between the snow and the sky.

It was soon apparent that the guides were struggling and did not know what to do.

Paul summoned up the years of experience in policing, and took the lead, encouraged all around him to keep going.

He saved more than150 people in those blizzards that claimed 29 other lives.

Good luck to Paul and the other nominees.