A post from me on a Saturday normally means I have been to a football match and am doing a write up. This week however that is not the case. I did not go to any football today, despite there being a number of games locally.
No, I am not self isolating, nor am I ill. Instead of going to football today, I went out on my bike. Today was the 3rd of the 10 days over which the Virtual UK Police Unity Tour is taking place. Normally the last weekend in July the UK Police Unity Tour takes places and we ride from various locations across the UK to the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire to raise funds for UK COPS.
To quote from their website,
Care of Police Survivors (COPS) is a charity that supports the families of police officers and staff who have lost their lives on duty.
Having been luck to have taken part in every UK Police Unity Tour since its inception in 2013, and also in the US Police Unity Tour on 4 occasions prior to that, I have been privileged to see the fantastic work that UK COPS do.
It is a Charity run by survivors (relatives of police officers killed in the line of duty), providing help and support to other survivors. It is a club no one want to be a member of, but sadly every year additional families become members whether as a result of criminal acts or accidents. No one deserves to die doing their job.
However, what is easy to forget are the families left behind following the death of a serving police officer. Those families said goodbye to their loved one as he set off for work, but never got to speak to them again.
Those widows or widowers , parents, children have to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. It is not an easy task when you have lost suddenly without warning your loved one.
UK COPS provide vital help and support to deal with the emotional turmoil, whether it be someone to listen, offer advice or provide more practical help.
Sadly in the last year or so, we have lost a number of officers killed as a result of criminal acts. PC Andrew Harper was killed in Thames Valley by thieves trying to steal a Quad Bike. He had only been married 4 weeks before his death. He & his partner had not even had their honeymoon.
Then more recently there was the murder of Sgt Matt Ratana who was shot whilst acting as Custody Sergeant at Croydon Police Station by a prisoner. He was heading towards retirement in 2 months time and had volunteered to work as a Custody Sergeant because he felt it was a safer role than being out on the streets. Again, he leaves behind a partner and a son.
As I said, normally we have rides from across the UK to the National Memorial Arboretum in July to coincide with the UK COPS annual Survivors’ Weekend. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Survivors’ Weekend was cancelled as was the Police Unity Tour. Instead the Organizing Committee agreed to my suggestion to run a Virtual Event with riders expected to complete 100 miles in a 10 day period whether out on the road ( as old fashioned cyclists like me have done), or using gym bikes, turbo trainers etc whether linked to Zwift or not. That is some form of computer game – or at least its what I say to wind up those who won’t venture out onto the road. Bloody soft southerners complaining its too cold or too wet to venture outside on the road. Have they never heard of Rule 5 ? Every cyclist should remember that rule.
So, I headed out before work on Thursday and did 25.72 miles and after work, I did another 16.06 miles. Neither work in particularly good weather and both were at rush hour. Friday, I did another 28.42 miles before work and got a visit from the p*nct*re fairy for my troubles. That was 70 miles done, so today Saturday, I decided to sacrifice going to football to do another 30 mile ride to bring up the 100 miles. As it was such a nice day, that 30 mile ride turned into a 41 mile ride and would have been longer, but I had to return home to sort out the workmen repairing my house roof.
Today’s ride took me on a route I have ridden many times over the last 20 years, and one I used to ride most Sunday’s with my son when he was little. I only recently discovered that on the hill out of Stapleford Abbotts, there was a police officer George Gutteridge murdered in 1927. So today, I took a minute out of my ride to pay my respects to him.
So I have done 111 miles in the first 3 of the 10 days available for doing the Virtual UK Police Unity Tour. I think it may be too much of a challenge to me not to complete a total of 200 miles in this time.
If any of you kind folk wish to sponsor me, then follow the links below and donate online. Any amount will help this charity continue its fantastic work.