Memorials held for PC Harper ahead of first anniversary of his death
Memorials have been held for Police Constable Andrew Harper ahead of the first anniversary of his death.
Thames Valley Police officers gathered on Friday for a series of services to mark PC Harper’s death on August 15 last year.
The 28-year-old officer was dragged to his death after he was caught in a crane strap as he tried to stop three thieves fleeing after they stole a quad bike in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire.
At Newbury Police Station in the county, 20 officers gathered at a time outside the station for two socially distanced memorials with both uniformed and non-uniformed staff attending.
Simultaneous services were also held in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and at a police training centre in Sulhamstead, attended by members of PC Harper’s family.
At the memorial in Newbury, Inspector Al Hawkett led the tributes.
He told the officers: “We have all been deeply affected by Andrew’s death, whether we knew him personally or not.
“The senseless loss of a colleague is hard enough, but being newly married, made his death all the more heart-breaking.
“Andrew was a brave young police officer, killed whilst doing the job that he loved.”
Mr Hawkett said there would be “no sense of closure” for the officer’s family and friends.
He added: “Andrew’s tragic death is something that will stay with all of us forever.”
The senior officer later read out a poem written by PC Harper’s widow Lissie, before he placed a wreath at the base of a half-mast flag outside of the station.
In the poem Mrs Harper described her husband as “kind and strong without venom or greed” and said she was lucky to be his wife.
It continued: “They will remember you now, so honest and true. King among men, forever dressed in blue. You’re a hero now my boy don’t you see. The truth is my love, you always were to me, Lissie.”
In addition to the memorials, officers across the Thames Valley region held a minute’s silence around 11am in memory of PC Harper.
A spokesperson for the force said the actual anniversary date of Saturday was being left free of commemorations so that his family and colleagues could mark the day in a way of their own personal choosing.
Henry Long, 19, who drove the car, was last month sentenced to 16 years in prison for manslaughter, while 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers received 13-year sentences, also for manslaughter.
PC Harper’s widow, Lissie Harper, and his mother Deborah Adlam, have launched a campaign backed by the Police Federation of England and Wales, calling for full-life prison terms for those who kill emergency services workers.
The police and crime commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, said: “PC Harper’s death is a powerful reminder of the dangers police officers, and all of our emergency service workers, can face every day as they protect our communities.
“It was just a few months ago here in Gwent that one of our own officers was stabbed in the line of duty and I would like to take this opportunity to again thank our police officers, emergency service workers and, of course, their families, for all they do.
“This is a sad anniversary to have to mark and my thoughts and best wishes are with PC Harper’s family and police colleagues at this difficult time.”