police and crime commissioner who took on a biking problem has stated he’s “gobsmacked” after exceeding his fundraising goal for a charity which offers assist to bereaved relations of law enforcement officials killed on obligation.
The UK Police Unity Tour is an annual cycle which goals to lift funds for charity Care of Police Survivors (COPS), which assist households of law enforcement officials who’ve misplaced their lives on obligation.
Festus Akinbusoye, the elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Bedfordshire instructed the PA information company that he determined to hitch the cycle after attending the funeral of Andrew Harper in 2019. Mr Harper was a Thames Valley police constable who was killed close to Sulhamstead, Berkshire within the line of obligation.
“Listening to his spouse converse at that funeral was a really shifting expertise. It simply opened my eyes much more to the actual risks that these women and men face on daily basis,” stated Mr Akinbusoye, 44.
“The truth is that there are only a few jobs on this nation the place folks can depart their dwelling within the morning and so they can’t assure that they will come again – policing is a kind of jobs.”
When Mr Akinbusoye discovered in regards to the biking tour, he needed to “give it a strive” as a result of assist COPS offers to the bereaved households of officers, although he admitted: “I’m not a bicycle owner in any respect.”
Nevertheless, over the course of the three days, he has cycled greater than 200 miles with a crew of round 15 fellow cyclists from Bedfordshire.
As a part of the cycle, every participant will get a blue band that’s “in reminiscence of a police constable” and the identify of the police drive and after they died will be discovered on the band.
“I rode for a man known as John Simmons who died on the fifth of August 2006 and was within the Bedfordshire police drive,” he stated.
“I’ve his band with me and I will probably be giving it to his dad and mom in a while this week as a result of they might not make it to Staffordshire right now.
“I didn’t know who John Simmons was, however now I really feel like I do as a result of I’ve realized his story and I’m listening to from officers who stated that he was a genuinely good, chirpy man.”
Every drive collaborating within the cycle had a distinct start line relying on the place they’re based mostly, however the ultimate location was the identical – The Nationwide Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. A memorial service was held to finish proceedings.
“One thing that has actually caught with me was that through the memorial service right now, I noticed myself surrounded with many lots of of law enforcement officials and their households – a few of them I knew and a few I’ve been using with over the previous three days,” he stated.
“Each single day we’ve been collectively, we’re collectively, we talked collectively, we sang collectively, we rode collectively for hours upon finish and it dawned on me, how would I really feel if something have been to occur with these guys?
“That may break my coronary heart as a result of they’re simply doing their jobs and policing is a really tight-knit household in some ways and when one will get wounded, that ripple impact is so huge inside the drive.”
The PCC deliberate to lift £500 however achieved greater than double that and stated he was “gobsmacked” due to the assist.
I am so humbled by the pennies and kilos that many have contributed and I’ve little question that’s going to go to good use as a result of I truly received to see it for myself
“I’m so humbled by the pennies and kilos that many have contributed and I’ve little question that’s going to go to good use as a result of I truly received to see it for myself,” he stated.
“I received to talk to a few of the beneficiaries and look of their eyes and so they instructed me how a lot assist they’ve obtained from COPS and the way a lot it means to them to see lots of of law enforcement officials and supporters biking for them.
“It was a really highly effective second that I’ll always remember.”
Roughly £1.1 million has been raised over the ten years the occasion has taken place and a home was bought which offers respite housing for affected households.