On Sunday (28th July 2019) officers from Gwent Police alongside colleagues from South Wales Police, Dyfed Powys Police and North Wales Police, took on the mammoth journey to the National Memorial Arboretum, by bicycle, to raise money for fallen colleagues.
The Care of Police Survivors (COPS), a national charity that supports the families of police officers and staff who have died on duty, held their annual Service of Remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The service was the conclusion of the charity’s annual Survivor Weekend, a two-day event which brought together the families of those who have lost their lives on duty.
Before the service began, officers and survivors taking part in the Police Unity Tour, which involved more than 460 riders and their support teams cycling the length and breadth of the UK, rode into the arboretum.
This procession of cyclists was the final rendezvous following three days of cycling. Amongst the riders, the Welsh Chapter, a combined team from across Wales' four police forces, rode to the service. Their journeys began on Friday 26th July when officers and staff from the Welsh forces started the gruelling challenge from their respective force areas.
For the team from Gwent Police, their 170 mile journey started at Police Headquarters in Cwmbran and continued north to St Mary's Priory in Abergavenny. Police Sport Gwent fielded 20 riders, including retired officers, PCs, detectives and the area commander for Newport and Monmouthshire, Chief Superintendent Ian Roberts. He said; "We have been raising money for Care of Police Survivors and the support has been excellent. Thank you to all those that have donated so generously. We've had an amazing experience riding with fellow colleagues from forces across the UK."
In Abergavenny the team were joined by South Wales Police and Dyfed Powys Police, where they all cycled the remaining miles to Bromsgrove, covering approximately 100 miles on day one. Despite the weather, the team continued for day two to Tamworth, where they rode into Drayton Manor theme park to meet families of fallen officers.
Superintendent Mike Richards said; "On the Sunday morning, all the riders set off in convoy to the National Memorial Arboretum. The weather only got worse; torrential rain, wind and cold conditions made the ride a tough one. We arrived to the applause of families and Chief Officers from around the country. This was one of the most moving experiences of my life. Most of us got pretty emotional at the service as we listened to bereaved families talk about their fallen heroes."
At the arboretum Temporary Chief Constable Pam Kelly laid a wreath in memory of those that died in the line of duty in Gwent Police. She said; "The whole Police family is affected when officers are tragically lost whilst on duty. Charities, such as COPS, are vital to providing care and support to the officer's wider family. It is really important that we support those that they leave behind. It was a privilege to welcome back the Police Unity Tour cyclists and to share a very humbling service with families who have lost loved ones."
This year the Unity Tour is set to raise more than £200,000 in total. Police Sport Gwent have so far raised an impressive £3000. The Just Giving page is still open, so there is still time to donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ukunitytour