The unflinching courage of PC Keith Palmer in the face of terror saved the lives of many others – but cost him his own.
As those around him fled to safety during the attack on Westminster, the unarmed officer bravely stood his ground to help subdue knife-wielding jihadist Khalid Masood. In doing so, he made the ultimate sacrifice.
His death was a stark reminder of the dangers police officers up and down the country face on a daily basis in order to protect the public. To honour those who have laid down their lives, the Sunday Express today backs a nationwide campaign to raise funds to build a new UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Police officers up and down the country face danger on a daily basis in order to protect the public
PC Palmer’s murder shattered not just his own family but also those who have experienced such tragedy before, none more so than the fathers of WPC’s Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone. Nicola, 23, and Fiona, 32 were shot dead by one-eyed gangster Dale Cregan in September 2012 after he had lured them to a house in Manchester with a hoax emergency call.
Nicola’s father Bryn said: “When I heard what had gone on in London and that a police officer had been stabbed, the pain hit me instantly.
“Ironically earlier that day I had presented a bravery award at the British Transport Police Federation Awards in Cardiff. As I was driving home the news began filtering through of events unfolding in Westminster. Straight away all those memories, all those emotions came flooding back.”
The unflinching courage of PC Keith Palmer in the face of terror saved the lives of many others
Nicola and Fiona’s names will be among 1,400 officers and police staff who laid down their lives inscribed on to the 50ft high monument that will be built within a dedicated remembrance garden. It will become a place of reflection and complement other sites around the country, notably the National Police Memorial in The Mall in London.
Bryn, 52, said: “To run towards somebody with a knife or a gun who is trying to hurt people, that’s doing more than just a job, it’s brave, in every sense.
“Even the more mundane stuff, like being stood at crime scenes for three or four hours at a time in the pouring rain and cold, takes a special kind of person to go back every day and deal with some of the things that Nicola and Fiona dealt with, and no doubt Keith did.
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“We’ve got the option of turning the TV over, we’ve got the option to walk or run from danger, they haven’t. Nicola and Fiona were not what I would call big ‘roughty toughty’ types but they did an extraordinary job and are exactly the kind of people policing our streets every day.”
The proposed UK Police Memorial at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire
An officer carries the helmet of PC Keith Palmer into Southwark Cathedral
Fiona’s father, Paul Bone, 68, read a prayer at last year’s National Police Memorial Day Service at St Paul’s Cathedral.
He said: “A couple of weeks before we’d gone down to London and visited the National Police Memorial on The Mall and Fiona and Nicola’s names were virtually the last ones on the roll of honour.
“Since we visited six to eight months ago, there’s now been three or four names added and it brings home to you that unless it’s a major event, like the deaths of Fiona and Nicola and now Keith Palmer, most police officers die on duty in relative obscurity. Those officers deserve as much as anyone else to be commemorated on a national memorial.”
The project, which has been given the backing of Prime Minister Theresa May, will cost an estimated £4million, of which £2.5million has already been secured through central government and other generous donors.
Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32 were shot dead by one-eyed gangster Dale Cregan
Another £1.5million is needed, which as well as the memorial, will also go towards supporting families of officers who have died on duty, setting up a “digital memorial” in the form of an interactive website, that will tell individual stories of bravery, and establish a school outreach programme.
Every day, our police officers and staff work tirelessly to keep us safe and protect us from harm
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Every day, our police officers and staff work tirelessly to keep us safe and protect us from harm. They go out to work not knowing what they might face but do so with the utmost professionalism and bravery. We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
The fundraising campaign is being launched in partnership with Express Newspapers and talk radio station LBC.
The funeral of PC Keith Palmer in pictures Mon, April 10, 2017
The funeral of the police officer who lost his life in the Westminster terror attack is scheduled for today at 2pm. His body was transferred to the Palace of Westminster yesterday, where a private memorial service was held for members of his close family
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Police officials and mounted police lead the hearse carrying the coffin of London Metropolitan Police Officer PC Keith Palmer during his funeral parade
Paul Ashford, Editorial Director of Express Newspapers, said: “We are backing the memorial because Daily and Sunday Express readers recognise the role of the police in protecting our community, sometimes even at the cost of their own lives, and agree that the heroism and sacrifice of thousands of policemen and women should have a national memorial of the highest order at the National Arboretum.”
LBC breakfast presenter and Sunday Express columnist Nick Ferrari added: “After the tragic events of last month which resulted in the death of a brave police officer, there can surely be no better time to remember the sacrifices that officers like he and others have given down the years. This is our opportunity to thank the brave men and women who stand on the front line for our security twenty-four hours a day, every day of the week and every week of the year.”
To donate, visit www.ukpolicememorial.org