Dear Supporters and Friends of the Police Arboretum Memorial Trust,
In my inaugural Christmas message as Chair of Trustees for the Police Arboretum Memorial Trust, I find myself reflecting on the impactful journey we’ve undertaken throughout the year. It has indeed been a year of significant milestones and heartfelt remembrance.
Our journey began by assimilating the insights gathered from our 2022 stakeholder survey, representing the voices of over 200,000 individuals from across policing, the families of the fallen, donors, sponsors, and the wider public. The results have illuminated our path forward in developing a new digital remembrance programme, set to launch in 2025. These valuable insights have been carefully woven into a comprehensive project plan.
In March, we were honoured to have a platform at the Tower of London, generously hosted by BT and our sponsors, Axon. This event allowed us to outline our plans to our esteemed donors and sponsors. A special moment was the presence of Shadow Home Secretary, The Rt. Hon. Yvette Cooper MP, who delivered a poignant keynote, underscoring the importance of remembering our fallen police officers.
Throughout the year, we were starkly reminded of the tragic losses within our policing community—colleagues who paid the ultimate price while courageously performing their duties. The loss of Sgt. Graham Saville from Nottinghamshire Police in August, who sacrificed his life attempting to rescue a distressed individual from a train track near Newark, serves as a poignant reminder of the extraordinary heroism exhibited by police officers daily.
The National Police Memorial Day in September, held in Cardiff in Wales, was a deeply moving and poignant event, bringing families and the law enforcement community together to honour and remember.
In November, we marked another significant moment by presenting brass leaves cut from the fabric of the UK Police Memorial at the Arboretum to families of the fallen at a special event at the House of Commons. This marked the first of many such events, as we aspire to present these symbolic leaves to bereaved families in remembrance of their loved ones.
As 2023 comes to a close, a year that has posed challenges for our police service, let us acknowledge and appreciate the unwavering commitment of officers, police staff and volunteers. Every day, in cities, towns, and villages, they stand as guardians, protecting us from harm and preserving our safety. It is imperative that we never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service to our communities.
Approaching the festive season, I extend warm season’s greetings on behalf of the Trust. As we celebrate, let us also spare a moment to reflect on those families where an empty seat at the Christmas table serves as a poignant reminder of their loved ones who paid the ultimate price. We must never forget them.
Wishing you all a peaceful and reflective festive season,
Gavin Stephens QPM
Chair of the Police Arboretum Memorial Trust,
Chair of National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC)