Tributes paid to fallen officers at National Police Memorial Day

27 September 2015

Today the policing family and Government officials from throughout the country gathered in Edinburgh to commemorate police officers who have died or been killed whilst on duty.  It was a service which crossed the political divide as Ministers joined in unison to honour lives lost.

The annual National Police Memorial Day service paid tribute to fallen officers from forces in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales, with the names of officers lost in the last year read out to a congregation of 1200.

A special act of remembrance was paid to those who lost their lives in the Clutha helicopter tragedy in 2013, with the laying of a wreath by Niall McLaren, Air Observer, Air Support Unit, Police Scotland.  

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said:  “I am proud to honour those police officers who have given their lives while in service of their communities and recognise the bravery of the men and women in policing as they work to keep us and our families safe.  

“In Scotland, we were reminded again of the dangers faced when the Police Scotland helicopter crashed into the roof of the Clutha pub in Glasgow. Ten people died that night, including the two police officers and the pilot on board.

“That was a black day which will never be forgotten. It is fitting that today a wreath has been laid in memory of those who died in the tragedy.

“My thoughts are very much with all of the families, friends and colleagues of those who have died. I hope they can be reassured and comforted by our continued and very deep respect and gratitude.”
Home Secretary Theresa May gave a reading and prayers were led by Michelle Nelson, daughter of Constable George William Chree Taylor, who served with Strathclyde Police and was murdered in 1976, aged  27; Donald Connolly, brother of Constable Gordon Connolly, who drowned in 1983, attempting to rescue a member of the public who had fallen into rough seas, aged 24;Derek Penman, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Scotland; and Mark Lindsay, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland.

During the service, candles were lit in remembrance by Mark Nelis, husband of Police Scotland Constable Kirsty Nelis, who was killed in the Clutha Helicopter crash, aged 36; Elaine Atkinson, sister of Nottinghamshire Constable Christopher McDonald, who was murdered in 1978, aged 19; Charlotte Godfrey, daughter of South Wales Constable Ian Godfrey, who was killed in a police vehicle collision in 1999, aged 30; and Alwyn Baird, widow of Royal Ulster Constabulary Constable Allen Baird, who was killed by a terrorist bomb attack in 1979, aged 28 years.

Speaking after the service, founder of National Police Memorial Day, Sergeant Joe Holness QPM, said: “Today is about giving deserved recognition to the honourable men and women who gave their lives to protect us.

“It is about ensuring their dedication and self-sacrifice is never forgotten, and it is about supporting loved ones and colleagues with an annual day of remembrance.”

Home Secretary Theresa May, said: “When a police officer falls in the line of duty, their death is a reminder of the very real dangers they face day in, day out, as they put themselves on the line to deal with violent criminals and dangerous situations.

“The police strive to keep us and our families safe, taking risks so we can live peacefully. It is a privilege to take part in National Police Memorial Day and to pay tribute to the bravery and honour of British police officers.”