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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 October, 2004, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Remembering the ultimate sacrifice
By Liam Allen
BBC News Online

The funeral of James Dolan
Pc James Dolan died while trying to recover a stolen car in 1956
More than 4,000 police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty were honoured on Sunday in the first National Police Memorial Day service in London.

BBC News Online talked to the families and colleagues of some of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice about what the memorial means to them.

Police officers are fully aware of the dangers they face daily when they sign up for the force.

This does not ease the pain felt by the families and colleagues of those who die while serving the public.

Kent constable Joe Holness says the dangers of the job never seem more real than when a policeman dies on duty.

Police officers are regularly losing their lives
Pc Joe Holness

He told BBC News Online: "It's something that, unfortunately, does happen too often and especially so with society itself becoming more violent.

"Police officers are regularly losing their lives."

But it is when colleagues on the same force die that the dangerous nature of being a police officer is really brought home, Pc Holness says.

Internal injuries

Fellow Kent police officer John Odell, 30, died in December 2000 while carrying out road safety checks in Margate as part of a pre-Christmas clampdown.

He was hit by a car he had been attempting to stop.

Pc Odell was dragged about 50 yards along the road and his hat, shoes, belt, baton and CS spray were strewn along the path of a car.

Pc Jon Odell
Pc Jon Odell was killed by a speeding motorist four years ago

He died from "massive internal injuries".

"It was something that impacted greatly on Kent officers - it affected us all," said Pc Holness.

"The nature of his killing also made it very difficult for us to cope with.

"He was a very well-liked and respected officer."

It was Pc Odell's untimely death that led Pc Holness to campaign for a National Police Memorial Day service.

The inaugural service was held at St Paul's Cathedral, London, on Sunday.

A roll of honour of all the 4,000-plus officers who have died since 1792, painstakingly compiled by the Police Roll of Honour Trust, was published for the first time at the service.

'Difficult times'

Also attending the service was 82-year-old Edna Williams, whose husband James Dolan died on 2 December, 1956, while trying to recover a stolen car in Wyhill, Hampshire.

The 36-year-old was struck by two cars travelling in opposite directions as he tried to stop one of them.

Edna Williams (formerly Dolan) and five children
My husband died nearly 50 years ago but it still seems like yesterday
Edna Williams

He left behind wife Edna, who has since remarried, and five children, aged from seven to 15 at the time.

"The local police were wonderful at the time but soon after we had to leave the police house - it was very difficult," she told BBC News Online.

She said she felt Sunday's Memorial Day was the first time her husband's death in the line of duty had been properly acknowledged.

"My husband died nearly 50 years ago but it still seems like yesterday."

Speaking before the service she said: "It will be very emotional but it's a wonderful thing - I'm sure there'll be a few tears.

"The memorial day and the work of the Police Roll of Honour Trust have enabled me to grieve for the first time since my husband's death."

Swept away

Hilary Morrison's husband Colin, 38, died together with two colleagues while trying to save a man from drowning in the icy sea at Blackpool on 5 June, 1983.

All three officers found themselves in difficulties in the water and were swept away by the waves.

"I was left with four children and I found things very difficult," Mrs Morrison said.

My husband's death changed my life but I've managed to bring up my children and they've all done very well
Hilary Morrison
"My husband's death changed my life but I've managed to bring up my children and they've all done very well.

"At the time, there was never any real recognition other than in Colin's own police force.

"That is until the memorial service."

Mrs Morrison now works as a volunteer trustee for the Police Roll of Honour Trust, helping the bereaved families of police officers.

Trust chairman Anthony Rae told BBC News Online on Sunday: "Today is the first time ever these officers are being remembered by the nation.

"You cannot overestimate the importance of this for their families."


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