This is the video produced by Iona Fisher to accompany her release of ‘Ava Maria’, raising money to help Care of Police Survivors – @uk_cops on Twitter
You can download the 4 track EP from the following digital music stores:
This is the video produced by Iona Fisher to accompany her release of ‘Ava Maria’, raising money to help Care of Police Survivors – @uk_cops on Twitter
You can download the 4 track EP from the following digital music stores:
A request for help from Greater Manchester Police / GMP Federation / North West Police Benevolent Fund
Officers from the Metropolitan Police are completing a Fallen Hero’s Charity Cycle Ridein memory of PC’s Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone, and in doing so, raising funds for the North West Police Benevolent Fund (registered charity number 503045).
The officers are cycling from London to Manchester (GMP HQ), setting off from London on 6th November 2012 and arriving at GMP HQ on 9th November 2012 at approximately 11 am. This is a fantastic gesture from our Met. Police Colleagues and just shows the strength of feeling around the country of our tragic loss. I hope the family of Fiona and Nicola draw some comfort from the massive support throughout the whole Police family.
There have been some requests from GMP Officers and staff, both serving and retired about joining the last leg of the ride to show their support and I now have details of the final leg which is shown below.
If anyone else would like to join the last leg could I please ask if you could let me know so we can monitor the numbers.
If you can please can I ask that you turn out and support the officers either when they arrive at HQ or, wherever you are in the country, along the route
You can find the full route on their website –> http://fallenheroescharitycycleride.weebly.com
Please take a few minutes to visit their website for further information about the challenge and how to donate to this cause. Please let me know if you want to join the last leg of the ride via email at email@example.com
Jackie Smithies, North West Police Benevolent Fund
The final leg of the cycle challenge is as follows:
Start : Buxton Police Station Silverlands – Meet between 0700 hrs and 0800 hrs with a set off time of 0830 hrs from Buxton Police Station on 9th November 2012 – The final leg is 25 miles
(Please note that there is no parking available at the Police Station)
2. A515 Buxton Terrace Road
3. A515 St John’s Road past Derby University onto Park Road
4. A5004 Manchester Road
5. Old Road
6. Elnor Lane
7. B5470 Chapel Road
8. Old Road
9. A5004 Market Street
10. Whaley Lane
11. Buxton Old Road
12. Hagg Bank Lane
13. Brickbridge Road
14. Church Lane
15. A626 Stockport Road
16. Marple Road
17. Marple Old Road
18. A626 Marple Road
19. Offerton Lane
20. A626 Hall Street
21. Spring Gardens
22. Church Gate
23. Twist Dale
24. B6167 Lancashire Hill
25. A626 Manchester Road
26. A6 Wellington Road North
27. A6 Stockport Road
28. Matthews Lane
29. Stovell Avenue
30. Northmoor Road
31. Redgate Lane
32. A6010 Pottery Lane
33. Alan Turning Way
34. Lord N Street
35. Grimshaw Lane
36. Monsall Road
37. Northampton Road (GMP HQ)
The text below was written by one of PC Fiona Bone’s very good friends who tries to put into words, how the events of the past few weeks in Manchester have burdened upon her. Please read and reflect.
Unless you have been on a different planet for the last few weeks, you will know of the atrocity that occurred on the 18th September 2012, in Mottram in Greater Manchester. Two Police Officers attended what, to all intents and purposes, was a routine burglary call. It wasn’t. A man who was wanted for two other murders, called the police and reported a burglary. He did this to lure police officers to the scene, and then he killed them in cold blood. He then handed himself into Hyde Police Station. That is as far as I will go in talking about him. He is scum, he is what is wrong with our society.
Two police officers were killed in cold blood. Two officers who were just doing their job. One of them was my friend.
When I first heard of the incident on BBC news online, I knew this, one officer was killed and one was in a critical condition, and I knew that it was in Tameside. That was all. But I had a knot in my stomach, the first person I thought of was Fiona, and I prayed that she, or anyone I knew was not involved. Nothing was confirmed, but I had a gut feeling. I went home from work at the end of my shift, and watched the GMP Press Conference. When they announced the names of the Officers, it was on the ticker tape part at the bottom of the screen.
When it said PC Fi… I didn’t have to wait for the rest of it, I knew, and I collapsed. I was on my knees in my living room crying before the …ona Bone came across the screen. I called my father in tears and told him what had happened. I called work, and told them that my worst fears had now been confirmed. I saw her photograph on the screen and I cried even more.
I knew Fiona, I didn’t know Nicola, but I cried for them both. I placed myself in their situation, I imagined how scared they must have been, and how when they faced that monster, what they must have faced. I have prayed, wished and hoped that I could have taken their place and they be spared, but it is not to be.
All the while my thoughts, prayers and love went out to both families. Their daughters, sisters, lovers and mothers had been taken from them. And I got angry. I got angry that one of the most genuinely beautiful people I had ever had the honour to meet, know and love had been taken from this world in such a brutal way. I got angry, that the Criminal Justice System, particularly the CPS, who saw fit to let this beast out on bail after he was arrested on suspicion of the murder of 2 other people, to roam free in the community. I got angry at all the people who helped to conceal him. I got angry at the fact he handed himself in, and in doing so almost bragged about what he had done. But most of all I was angry at a society that can let people like that exist, that such people can walk amongst us and be so free to inflict such pain angered me.
But as the news came in, and the pictures of Fiona and Nicola were spread across the Country’s media, on TV, Newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, etc, I stopped being angry, and thought of what THEY did! They risked their lives, and paid the ultimate price, to protect a community. They did it without question, without hesitation, and with pride and honour. They were doing their job. They were responding to a routine call, they left the Station House knowing and believing that they could make a difference, and they did. They died for it.
The days between what happened and going to Manchester for the funeral were frankly a blur. Shock, denial, disbelief, guilt, anger, despair, and everything in-between was involved. It was all to surreal, and to a certain extent it still is.
And then I travelled to Manchester, the first time I had been back in 10 months. I didn’t think my first trip back would be to attend Fiona’s funeral and pay my respects to a friend who I knew and loved. The morning of her funeral, I awoke at 4am, and frankly I remember little else from that point until I reached Victoria Station to meet a friend who was to attend the funeral with me. I then saw a train, that should have been full of commuters, it entered the station, and when it emptied every single person was dressed in Uniform.
All of them Police Officers from across the country! All their to honour a woman they didn’t know, but who was part of their family, the Police Family. I was overcome with emotion, and also pride and gratitude that these men and women felt they had to be there to honour their fellow officers.
I was in the Cathedral for the service, and all I can say is it was beautiful. That part for me is still too raw to talk about. But I will say this, her family did Fiona proud that day! Whilst everyone else could not keep it together, they did, they honoured her, and they stood proud. And I can’t help but think she was there in some way keeping their spirits and saying “It’s ok, I’m with you, don’t be sad, you can get through this” and they did. They did her proud!
Then after the funeral and after the tears, I saw this image today:
It was on Constable Chaos’ website and for me it epitomises what Fiona stood for and who she was, at least for me anyway. She was ‘the Job’ she loved being a Copper, but first and foremost she was fun, she loved her family, her partner, her daughter and her friends. This picture with the 2 kids in bright coats against the dark uniforms brings both of those worlds together. And who knows, maybe the 2 kids in this photo may go on to change the world in ways we haven’t even thought possible yet. I hope they will. I have hope, despite the awful events of September 18th. I have hope that what Fiona and Nicola stood for will grow stronger, and their sacrifice will not be in vein, but be the birth of a new community.
I have faith that we will become a community where we stand up and say NO, we will not tolerate violence in our community and in our society, NO, we wont sit in silence when we know dangerous criminals are in our midst and say YES we will stand up to those who are determined to undermine our communities and our society. No longer will we sit silent with what we know, but speak up and bring criminals to justice. THAT is how we honour Fiona and Nicola.
May they both Rest in Peace, with Love, Honour and Respect xxxxx
It’s taken me a few days now to get to a point where I could write this blog .. or more accurately write a collection of words that tried to explain how I’ve got to this point and how I feel about the selfless actions of somewhere over 1,000 people who gave their own time and effort, to answer a simple question, and to stand, for many, in a strange street, in a strange town, at the same time; to think about and honour two girls they had never met, never would, and had no idea of the slightest thing about them, but knew that at this time and in this place, they simply had to be there for them.
Not wanted to be there, but HAD to be there.
In my whole life, I’ve probably visited the centre of Manchester about half a dozen times. And if I’m honest, I’d have to say my impressions had never been that good.
Many moons ago I was a ‘white van man’, and often ventured into industrial areas and ‘back street’ offices as well as parts of the city centre making deliveries. My lasting memories were of grime, of deprivation and in some cases, the sort of place I certainly wouldn’t want to walk in broad daylight, never mind after dark.
Other than that, my visits to the city centre have been no more than the quick in and out whilst going to a concert at the MEN Arena. And again, my thoughts rarely got out of the negative as wherever I seemed to go; whichever corner I seemed to turn, I was met with visions of a place that was litter strewn; unclean; grubby; past its sell by date
Perhaps I just never had the opportunity to visit the ‘good side’ of town – or maybe I just let my stereotypes win over me. All of that however, changed this week …..
I had, on the 19th September, sent out a tweet, the content of which said “Calling all cars … would you work a day in GMP so their officers can attend funerals for Fiona & Nicola #CoverForGMP”, a simple request which it’s fair to say has changed the perception of the relationship between the Police and Social Media for ever.
The origin of the #CoverForGMP hashtag was, as I have said on numerous times before, not mine. It arrived with me via a tweet from @ResponseSgt, like me, shocked and astounded at what had happened on the streets of Manchester on the 18th September and wondering what we, as fellow police officers could do at this awful time.
And this is what we could do. Get as many police officers into Manchester as was possible. To cover the cars so GMP officers could pay their respects to their fallen officers, and the line the route of the funeral procession, showing the world aloud that British Police Officer’s cared for each other …. completely. The rest really is, as they say, history …
I arrived in the city sometime before 8.00am on Wednesday 3rd October. The funeral of PC Nicola Hughes was not for a good five hours but I wanted to be there as early as possible; to slowly wander around with my own thoughts; to see where everywhere was; to know where everything was going to happen.
To be honest, I was also in panic mode. “What if no-one came”, “What if no-one turned up”, “What if everything had just been that typical online ‘Yes I’ll do it’ when whoever has no intention of keeping their promise”. After all, people retweet all sorts of stuff on Twitter every singe day. Was my ‘Calling all cars …’ message really going to be any different to all the rest ?
I had however convinced myself over the previous two weeks that people would come; that police officers, police staff, members of the other emergency services and member of the general public would want to be there – that they would feel compelled to be drawn to this place, at these times, to stand with hundreds, maybe thousands of complete strangers, possibly in the cold and rain, just to say goodbye to a couple of coppers.
The last few nights had been sleepless. The guys and girls on my shift were starting to say ‘you’re looking tired and stressed’ and were rallying round to do whatever they could (which mainly involved lots of cups of tea), but this was crunch time. What also niggled me was the knowledge that people I had been in contact with here in Greater Manchester Police had also been told by ‘those that know these things’ that it wasn’t going to happen, a couple of hundred local police might turn up, but this Twitter thing was just a myth, Luckily, my contacts also had faith.
I walked up from the old Boddington’s car park, past the MEN, one of the few places in this city I had ever seen before – there’s a bloomin’ great railway station next door you know, but I’ve never even noticed that until this day !!
Something WAS different this morning. The sun was shining down upon us in the chill of the morning air as I walked along, towards the front of Manchester Cathedral, and then onwards towards Deansgate and the hotel where I was due to meet the people from GMP Federation in a couple of hours time.
The place looked cleaner, brighter, more vibrant. Could me previous impressions of this city really have been so wrong. Was it right that I was thinking of this place in such a positive light, bearing in might what was to come over the next two days ?
TV outside broadcast vans were everywhere. I saw the familiar faces of more than one national TV reporter milling around; talking to their crews; working out where their best location would be.
I caught sight of Ian Hanson, the GMP Federation Chairman, being interviewed by the BBC in front of a satellite truck, doing a piece on the days forthcoming events for the breakfast news. I didn’t want to wander over and introduce myself there and then – he was busy.
Above this I knew that the BBC and others knew I was there, and I knew they were very keen to find out who I was, and try and get some sort of comment or interview about the whole #CoverForGMP effort. Much as I would probably have loved to shout from the rooftops about how amazingly great the whole British police service and others had been about supporting #CoverForGMP, that needed to be left to somebody else.
I’d been pre-warned about being careful who I spoke to or who I knew that was there who might accidentally slip out the wrong thing for fear of being ‘outed’. It really was a bizarre scenario during an awful set of circumstances – almost having to sneak around like a naughty child for fear of being caught.
As I walked on, there seemed to be hardly anyone else around. And then, an elderly lady walked towards me. Directly over to me. And spoke. “It’s a horrible thing you having to come here today, not everyone in Manchester is like that you know” she said. At this time I was dressed, not in tunic and helmet, but in an open necked white shirt with an old nondescript green fleece over the top and yes, my uniform trousers and boots. But she knew I was a copper, and just wanted to welcome a stranger into her town.
And so it carried on as I walked past the Cathedral and wandered slowly along Deansgate, catching glimpses of the Arndale Centre, passing Harvey Nics, working out where that horrible previous atrocity, the IRA bombing had happened. As I stopped to take in the sights around me, and even when I hadn’t stopped, people spoke, they thanked me for coming, as I’m sure they thanked every single other police officer they saw that morning.
I still had much time to spend before my arranged meeting with the GMP Fed people so wandered further down Deansgate, idly nosing in shop windows as I passed. There were a few bobbies about, but not many. The ones I saw were all kitted in ‘normal’ street uniform so I rationed that they were the normal shift strength. Again the panic started to happen. “No one’s going to come” I thought.
But I had little time to think anything else as I glanced and saw a chap approaching me through the corner of my eye. The guy was different to those who had stopped and spoken to me in the previous minutes – this was a guy with a purpose, and a guy with the tattoos to match …
And so that was how I came to be stood with one of Manchester’s most illustrious characters. Was he a wanted man ? – very probably, but I had no way of checking. Was he, for want of a better phrase, a ‘career criminal’ ? – most definitely. he was certainly the sort of chap I wouldn’t want to come across working the Public Order shift on a Friday night.
He came towards me with the obligatory ‘swagger’ – arms braced to the sides in the standard cavemen style; no doubt the effect of many too many steroids on the human body.
“Mate” he said. ‘I doubt it’ I thought. “Listen, I got no time for your lot; wouldn’t bother to take a few of you out but what he did was wrong, proper wrong. It won’t happen again trust me”.
That was the obligatory toned down with all the expletives removed version of what he said, but the sentiment is there. Quite plainly, he was making sure we knew that those that ‘professionally’ spend much of their life on the wrong side of the law, were equally as shocked at what has happened as we were.
And the “It won’t happen again” ?? – there was something in the way he said it that made me believe him. Or at least want to believe him.
And so it continued. People stopped to ask questions “Where are you from ?”, “How long did it take to get here”, “Did you know the officers that were killed ?”, and so on … Almost without exception, people thanked us all for taking the time and effort to come to their city on this very sad occasion.
There still didn’t seem to be too many obvious officers in uniform about as I made my way to the hotel where the Federation had based themselves, but after a short discussion with the Fed Reps and fellow Twitterer @NathanConstable, I stepped back outside to a sight that I simply could not believe. In less than 30 minutes, Deansgate had gone from a bustling city centre thoroughfare, to the beginnings of a long, almost silent line of black uniforms on both sides of the road; already reaching from the entrance to the Cathedral for several hundred metres.
Along the length of Deansgate, police officers in bright yellow fluorescent jackets stood at regular intervals; the ‘#CoverForGMP officers, who had been nominated, two from each police force around the country, to represent their forces at these solemn occasions, and offer the ‘symbolic’ aid to Greater Manchester Police that the original tweets had requested.
I had arranged to meet some friends travelling in by train at Victoria Station, so quickly I made my way back through the increasing numbers of smartly dressed; for those that had managed to beg, borrow or otherwise acquire, tunics were the order of the day, boots were polished and trousers pressed; coppers were walking from all directions towards the Cathedral area.
At the railway station a train had just arrived. Almost without exception, every person that got off that train was in uniform; I saw police, ambulance, prison service and probably a few others I didn’t recognise, but they were all here for one thing – to #CoverForGMP.
I met my friends, and we walked back, amongst the growing numbers towards the Cathedral and Deansgate. And with every passing minute, the numbers grew. From every possible direction, not one, not two, but groups of uniformed people walked sombrely along the line until they reached the end where, without direction or consultation from above, they simply took their place.
And of course, it wasn’t just the uniformed services. Hundreds of members of the public had also joined the lines; united in grief and wanting to pay their respects to the memories of two young ladies who had given their lives trying to make those of the people of Manchester just that little bit easier.
And then the silence fell.
A normally busy, bustling metropolitan centre of commerce fell quiet. And I don’t mean a reduction in the everyday noise around you; the roar of engines, the music blaring from the shops; the people engrossed in conversation as they hurried along, too busy to notice what was going on three feet away.
This was different. Everyone had stopped. The traffic had stopped. The shops had stopped. The offices had stopped. There was no noise.
Until, from a distance, a strange ‘tapping sound’ could be heard. It was out of sight for those of us near to the Cathedral, and so not immediately identifiable as to what the source of the noise was. But no one moved. No one left their place.
And then, moments later, the first sight of what was to follow became apparent. Two riders from the Greater Manchester Mounted Division rode their horses, slowly but purposefully, along the length of the street. The strange noise we had all heard being the echoing sound of horseshoes on tarmac. But that really was the only sound that could be heard !
The whole scenario was surreal. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck, as I’m sure they did for every single other person present. The tolling of a single Cathedral bell followed. Slowly. Rhythmically. In sorrow.
And then the sounds again of horseshoes on tarmac. Only this time, behind the mounted officers followed a hearse. The carriage carrying PC Nicola Hughes on her final journey.
Along the line, which now stretched further, much further than I could see, heads bowed in respect. As the funeral cortege passed, flowers were thrown; flowers handed out on the spur of the moment by a local store. And the public clapped. The public showed their appreciation by sending our fallen colleague off with a round of applause for a beat well walked.
And so, as the coffin carrying PC Nicola Hughes was carried, by her colleagues, into the Cathedral, the line of people outside, made their way, still almost silently, to the Cathedral Gardens, where the service was relayed via a large screen, allowing many more people to take an active part in the service being carried on inside.
And shortly before the service drew to an end, whispers began to ripple through the amassed crowds. Tunics were tugged and beckoning fingers called. Again, there had been no formal or official call, but everyone present knew what needed to be done.
As the committal took place within the Cathedral, those of us outside again filed into line, this time to provide a guard of honour as for the final time, Nicola left the city centre to be carried away to places new.
The rest of the afternoon became a bit of a blur. A reception was held at GMP Headquarters for all the officers that had travelled from around the country to assist on the day. I was also, honoured to be invited back, and introduced to many of the senior personnel present. It was a chance for me to thank the Senior ranks for the support they had given to the idea of #CoverForGMP and progressing our ideas into a workable, manageable format with the necessary dignity of the occasion, and also for the same senior officers to offer their gratitude for the support they had received from around the UK.
The next morning, Thursday 4th October, I returned again to the streets of Manchester City Centre. I had arranged to meet up with a fellow blogger @TheCustodySgt. We met on a strange street corner, in a town where neither of us lived or worked, but with a common purpose – to stand together and support the people of Manchester through the second of two of their darkest days.
But this morning, we managed to find humour together in all the sadness. This in no way detracted from the respect due, but n the way that police officers throughout the land learn to cope with the worst that life can throw at us, we know either to laugh or we will cry.
As the crowds gathered once again, and the not-so-thin-for-a-change blue line began once more to snake its way along both sides of Deansgate, we did our best to find and thank as many of our online followers as we could. To thank people for their support, and for making, in some cases, a considerable journey (my phone had started beeping at 4.30am with messages from people saying ‘We’re on the way, just leaving Swindon’ and the like !).
What people must have thought of these two, uniform clad bobbies, frantically tapping away at mobile phone screens, darting up and down the line, and waving mysteriously in the air I’ll never know.
Twitter conversations like “Where Are You”, “I’m by the Orange Sign”, “Can’t see you do a jig or something” and “Go stand by that big round pink thing” only served to break the ice and bring an already close police family that little bit even closer together.
But then the single bell began to toll again and everything came to a standstill once more. For the second day, Manchester became like a scene from one of those ‘Day After’ movies where nothing had survived; where nothing dared move; there was nothing but the silence itself.
And then …. again …. the tapping noise from afar. Even though this time I knew what it meant, it made it none the less a haunting sound.
And again, for the second day in a row, the only movement on Deansgate was that of a serial of mounted police officers, slowly but gracefully making their way along the street, again leading the unmistakeable sight of a black hearse carrying a fallen police officer, PC Fiona Bone, one one last patrol through the city centre of Manchester as she made her way to the Cathedral for a service to remember her life, cut short so violently.
And again, the heads of those lining the street; police and public alike, bowed in unison as the funeral procession made its way slowly past. And as again, Fiona was carried, by her colleagues, into the Cathedral, the sombre line of mourners from within the city and beyond, made their way once more to the Cathedral Gardens where they could take their part in the service being conducted within.
The sight of many hundreds of people from all walks of life, young and old, stood together in quiet reflection was a humbling one, which will stay with me for a very long time. And when Iona Fisher started to sing Ave Maria, I was not the only person there to shed more than a few tears. There was no embarrassment, as many wept together and stood together, proud. Proud to be there to support friends, family, colleagues and the good people of Manchester in their time of need.
As for the last time, the combined ranks of people lined the route to say their final farewell to Fiona as she left the Cathedral ready for a more private, secluded family service, I looked around me, and saw that amongst hundreds of complete strangers, I had suddenly gained the same number of new friends.
As people began to disperse, and go their separate ways, @TheCustodySgt and myself still had more to do, more people to say thank you to. Most notably, PC Amie Holland, who’s heartfelt poem had become a centrepiece of #CoverForGMP and who it was our honour and privilege to shake the hand of.
And then, joined by yet another fellow Tweeter, @SirIanBlair, we met up with one of Fiona’s colleagues and sat and talked in a local coffee shop. It was then I think we realised that things weren’t over and there was more we had to do.
Making the walk back to the car park with @SirIanBlair after this meeting seemed like the longest journey I’ve ever made. The thoughts going through my mind just would not stop. The culmination of two weeks preparations to support our GMP colleagues and the families of Nicola and Fiona had worked – against the odds, they had worked.
And when I finally sat down in my car and relaxed for a moment, the enormity of everything seemed to crash down on me like a flood. I’m not ashamed to say that I sat for twenty minute or more with tears streaming down my face. The sorrow I’d built up over the previous days had finally allowed itself to be released.
And so I made the journey home, alone, with only my thoughts for company; my thoughts that I hoped the families of the two murdered officers wouldn’t think that we had gone ‘overboard’; that we had only done all this for our own personal benefit, whatever that may be. But I don’t think they did. At least I hope they didn’t.
#CoverForGMP came to fruition as a unique idea brought about by a unique set of circumstances at a particular moment in time.
Could it be repeated ? Who knows. It is of course our lasting wish that no family ever again has to go through the pain and torment that now faces the relatives of Fiona and Nicola, but history suggests that someone, somewhere, sometime, will have to do just that.
And if again, the wider police family can help and support those in their time of grief, then yes we should, or rather, yes we must, for that is our duty.
The following train companies have now confirmed that they will offer FREE TRAVEL to and from Manchester (Piccadilly or Victoria depending on service) on Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th October for police officers attending the funerals of PC’s Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes.
YOU MUST SHOW YOUR WARRANT CARD TO GET FREE PASSAGE !
Virgin Trains – On all routes across their network into stations in Manchester (Press release expected soon) .
East Midland Trains – On the Liverpool to Norwich route going via stations in Manchester
Trans-Pennine – On all services into Manchester
Cross Country Trains – Services to and from Manchester across their network
South West Trains – All routes to Manchester
Arriva Trains Wales – all routes to Manchester across their network
National Express coaches – all routes to Manchester across their network
Please click on any of the train company’s names or logo’s to be taken to their website for timetable information or alternatively go to www.thetrainline.com
If you know of any other transport services (coach or train) who are supporting #CoverForGMP and #OperationDeansgate please let me know urgently.
This map is not to be taken as the final official route, (hopefully GMP will be releasing an official and more accurate route on Monday) but this diagram serves to show the approximate procession route from Quay Street to the Cathedral at the ‘city centre’ end of Deansgate.
The road area shaded in purple is likely to be where officers, staff and public are asked to line the route although again, this is not a confirmed final but purely based on information passed so far.
It also shows the location of car parking and Manchester Victoria railway station for information and your planning.
On both Facebook and Twitter, many kind people have made offers to provide accommodation and other facilities for people travelling to Manchester from all over the UK for the funerals of PC’s Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes.
In the absence of any better system of collating and communicating this information, can I ask simply that anyone who is able to provide assistance to police officers or other people who wish to attend the funerals, leaves some form of contact details as a ‘Comment’ on this page.
If you don’t see a ‘Comments Box’ at the bottom of this article, click on ‘Leave A Comment’ or ‘XX Comments’ at the top of the page, just under the title and at the end of all the ‘tags’
Please bear in mind though that this is a publically accessible webpage, so don’t go leaving any information you would not want the world to see !! – consider using a separate ‘Gmail’ or ‘Hotmail’ email address, or you can get a free vanity ‘07XXX’ phone number which you can redirect to your mobile from companies such as Open Telecom, UK Number, DataCalls and many more – just do a Google Search for ‘Free UK Personal Number’ or ‘Free UK 070 Number’.
Thank you for your help and support
Following the announcement yesterday by GMP DCC Ian Hopkins regarding ongoing planning for the funerals of PC’s Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes at Manchester Cathedral next week, and the subsequent announcement that GMP will only be requesting a two nominated officers from each police force to #CoverForGMP, I am moving to ‘Plan B’, otherwise known as OPERATION DEANSGATE.
There are sound operational reasons why GMP have been unable to take up our kind offers to cover the streets of Manchester whilst their own officers paid their respects and these, we cannot argue with I’m afraid.
However, we can, and must, still ‘do our bit’. – Over 5,000 police officers, staff and members of the public pledged their support for #CoverForGMP on Facebook and Twitter in the days following the horrific cold-blooded murders of our two colleagues Fiona and Nicola.
These are everyday people, so shocked, alarmed and distressed about what happened on the streets of Manchester on September the 18th that they, like myself, feel the need to pay our respects and to honour the memory of PC’s Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes.
We ALL need to show Fiona and Nicola’s families, their friends and colleagues at GMP, and the wider community of Manchester and indeed the whole country, that we all stand together, united in our grief and bewilderment at last weeks awful events.
To that end, this is the plan, and it’s very simple :
The funeral of PC Nicola Hughes will take place at 13.00 hours (1.00pm) on Wednesday 3rd October
The funeral of PC Fiona Bone will take place at 10.00 hours (10.00am) on Thursday 4th October
Both funerals will take place at Manchester Cathedral, Victoria Street, Manchester M3 1SX
I want as many people as possible to make their way to Manchester on either or both of the days. Over 5,000 people initially said YES to #CoverForGMP. I appreciate a number of these volunteers will be unable to attend due to work commitments, but if you are available, please make every possible effort to be there. We need to show Fiona and Nicola’s families very strongly what the loss of two police officers means to us all and that we are there to support them in any way we can.
Please make your way to DEANSGATE, MANCHESTER, between the areas of Quay Sreet, near the Great Northern Amphitheatre – postcode M3 4EN, and the MEN Arena and Victoria Railway Station – postcode M3 1AR, as early in the day as possible. From there people will be directed and assisted by GMP staff.
Police Officers can wear uniform even if off duty (confirmed by GMP). If you have a tunic, or can beg, borrow or otherwise acquire one please do so – this is the preferred dress. If not, police fleeces are the secondary option (should be zipped up to the chequered line).
Please wear white shirt and tie if possible as opposed to black operational shirts. Also if off duty, DO NOT wear utility belts or PPE, and especially do not carry batons, handcuffs or CS, Pepper, Pava or similar spray with you.
Police staff should have no problem either wearing uniform on the day/s but please check with your own force if unsure.
Members of the general public are asked to dressed according to the occasion.
I am fully aware of the general mood and low levels of morale in the police service at the moment, and I am no different to anyone else in that respect, but this is not an opportunity for political point scoring or ‘having a go’ at senior police officers or politicians. Please do not wear clothing with controversial or offensive comments on. There will be plenty of time for action on other matters at a more relevant time.
We are there to honour two murdered police officers and that can be our only focus.
There will be an overwhelming amount of media coverage on the day and many, many journalists will be eager to speak with mourners and gain their opinions and views. If you feel uneasy talking to the press, please direct them to either the official Greater Manchester Police or GMP Federation Media Officers, the details of which they WILL have. Any none immediate press enquiries can be fielded off to myself and I will put them in contact with the most appropriate person.
To echo the words of Ian Hanson, Chairman of the Greater Manchester Police Federation:
We want to make these two funerals events that Manchester will never forget, and which will show the families that every police officer in the country is there with them
To do that we would encourage any colleague who is available to come to Manchester and line the route of each funeral procession next Wednesday and Thursday.
There will be ample room for all. It does not matter what uniform you wear, it’s about being there.
GMP Federation also wish to point out that this is not a formal event being organised by Greater Manchester Police or the Federation. They are making colleagues from around the country aware of what GMP officers are doing with regard to the funerals with an open invitation for others to join them on the day to pay their respects and remember the lives of PC’s Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes.
Trains & Buses:
I know early on there was suggestion that Virgin Trains & National Express were going to provide transport for police officers wishing to attend the funerals. I understand both companies were in contact with GMP direct but have not yet had any update from either side as to whether any such arrangements have been finalised.
The nearest railway station to the Cathedral and Deansgate is Manchester Victoria – literally a few minutes walk away. There is also a tram service from Manchester Piccadilly to Victoria Station.
There are many car parks in and around Manchester City Centre but they can fill up quickly and can be very pricey so I am informed.
The best car park to use is the huge 24 hour one on the site of the old Boddingtons Brewery where you can park for £3.00 all day !
This car park is at the very end of Victoria Street (continuation of Deansgate) and at its junction with Trinity Way, opposite the M.E.N. Arena and again, only a few minutes walk from the Cathedral.
The address for this car park is 32 Great Ducie Street, M60 3WB
GMP should hopefully have location maps available on Monday which will also be available on this site.
More information to follow ….
In the days since the tragic deaths of our colleagues Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes we have been overwhelmed with messages of condolence and offers to provide whatever support we need. It is incredibly moving to see how Fiona and Nicola have touched so many lives and I know that their families have taken great comfort from these messages.
We are working closely with Fiona and Nicola’s families to ensure they are able to give them the tribute that they deserve. Our priority continues to be ensuring that their wishes are carried out next week.
The response through the Cover for GMP movement has been incredible and something that we have never seen before.
We are keen to bring colleagues in from other forces to work with us and help us through the difficult days next week. To achieve this we have asked PNICC ( Police National Information Co-ordination Centre) to act as a co-ordinating point and forces will be asked to identify two officers who have the relevant training and can come to Greater Manchester next week and provide support.
Other officers who wish to come to Greater Manchester to pay tribute to Fiona and Nicola can help to line the route to Manchester Cathedral along Deansgate.
Many people outside of the police service have also wanted to provide us with support which is incredibly touching. And while we honour the memories of our two brave colleagues we would also ask people to recognise the work that takes place by police officers every day in communities across the UK.
This is the job that Fiona and Nicola loved doing. It is the job they were doing on Tuesday 18 September – protecting people. While we are not able to accept all the kind offers of support that we have received it would be a fitting tribute to our two colleagues if people directed their kind offers of support to their local officers wherever they may be. Finding their own way to recognise the contribution they make.
People can still sign the online book of condolence or make donations. The Police Federation are also organising wristbands in remembrance of Fiona and Nicola with the proceeds being provided to the families.
On behalf of the families of Fiona and Nicola, their colleagues and the whole of GMP, I want to thank everyone for their kind messages and offers of support. The response to the terrible events last week have been a great source of comfort to the families, friends and colleagues in fact to the whole of GMP. So thank you and I hope that you are able to find a way to join with us to remember Fiona and Nicola next week.
This is the poem by PC Amie Holland of Greater Manchester Police, written by her, dedicated to the memory of PC’s Fiona Hope and Nicola Hughes, and read out live on air by Amie herself.
This poem has come to be the words of the entire British policing family, friends and members of the public, as we all try to come to terms with, and try and understand, what happened in Mottram on the 18th September.
PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone – Funeral arrangements
Today we have seen an enormous show of support from colleagues and the community who took part in the vigil to remember Fiona and Nicola.
It was a very poignant morning when we reflected on the past week. We are continuing to support their families at what is obviously an extremely difficult time.
Following conversations with both families and respecting their wishes, we now know that the funeral arrangements will be:
PC Nicola Hughes: Wednesday 3 October at 1pm, Manchester Cathedral
PC Fiona Bone: Thursday 4 October at 10am, Manchester Cathedral
I understand that many of you may wish to attend. The Force Events Section will make contact with Divisions and Branches to coordinate arrangements. We will be taking up offers of assistance from other forces.
We will provide further information over the next few days.
Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy
This video has been sent to me today by PC James Griffiths of West Mercia Police
It also incudes the words from PC Amie Holland’s much publicised poem
Try and watch it without the tears streaming down your face ….
From Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins
We have been extremely touched by the messages of support and offers of help from police officers and staff around the country.
There have been thousands of people and organisations wanting to assist and give up their time including using the #coverforgmp hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.
Our priority continues to be to support the families of Fiona and Nicola and we are speaking to them as they consider what arrangements they want.
We have spoken to the Association of Chief Police Officers and have asked them to co-ordinate the offers of support from forces so that we can take up some of the kind offers but ensure that we can still do the best for the families.
We intend to have representation from every UK force either in supporting the force providing cover for GMP or attending the funerals.
We will provide some more information about the plans once we have details from the families of Fiona and Nicola.
24th September 2012
For all those who have offered their time and support to GMP: Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, said:
“First of all I want to say a heartfelt thank you for everyone’s kind offer of support to GMP.
“People and organisations from every walk of life have contacted us to pledge their support and to give up their time.
“Today, ACPO will be releasing a note to all Forces to explain that we will be grateful to take up all genuine offers of assistance, but they will of course need some time to organise the logistics of this.
“However these kind offers haven’t just come from within the police family.
We have had volunteers from numerous different organisations offering to help out. We will find a way to work with any members of the public and any organisations who want to show their solidarity.
“We will work with other forces to arrange the support from within the police service, but, just as importantly we promise to come back to everybody, no matter where they are, as soon as we can. We will do our utmost to ensure that everyone who has offered their help will be able to do so.
“Once again, thank you for your support – it really makes a difference.”
The last few days have, it’s fair to say, been a blur; sleep has become a distant memory. Like every decent person around the country, police officer, staff, family, friend or not, I felt physically sick when the news started coming out about the horrendous murders of PC’s Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in Manchester on September 18th.
After writing my post on the matter, It Tomorrow Never Comes, and whilst watching one of the BBC News Channel live feeds from the scene I received a tweet from @ResponseSgt wondering if a small number of officers could be rallied to #CoverForGMP so their own teams could attend the funerals of the officers concerned. Shortly afterwards I had a similar tweet from @TheCustodySgt (or it may have been the other way round).
After a couple of minutes thinking about it, I reckoned that shouldn’t be too difficult, even to get 40 or 50 bobbies from GMP or one of the neighbouring forces to step in and help their colleagues and so I tweeted the message
Calling all cars …. Would you work a day in GMP so their officers can attend funerals for Fiona and Nicola ?
I then went off to mow the lawn, with the thought of ‘how would that work’ milling over in the back of my mind whilst I cut the grass.
Not very long after at all, Mrs C, who as it happened wasn’t working that day either, came out into the garden saying “Chaos, what’s wrong with your phone it won’t stop beeping”. As soon as I looked at the screen and saw the sheer number of notifications and emails outstanding, I knew something big was happening !
Within a very short space of time, my initial guestimate of that 40-50 officers to help had been blown well out of the water. Within hours, over 1,500 police officers, staff and members of the public had offered to get to Manchester and do whatever was asked of them, for free !!, in order that the officers, staff and people of Manchester could pay their respects at the funerals of their fallen colleagues.
A couple of days later and there are now well over 5,000 people who have said YES to #CoverForGMP ! – yes, that’s right, OVER 5,000 !!
And that’s on my Facebook and Twitter alone. Many, many more have already contacted GMP and their own forces to offer help.
These are people from all over the country; yes many are police officers and staff who directly feel the pain that Fiona and Nicola’s colleagues, families and friends are going through – but many are not. They are everyday folk who are also so overwhelmingly shocked and affected by what has happened that they also feel the need to do something, anything, to help out. For that, and for every kind word received by me, by GMP, and all the other police forces round the country I can only say a big, big thank you yet again.
On top of that, Virgin Trains and National Express have also indicated their wish to assist us moving people around and have been put in direct contact with the Senior Officers Teams at Greater Manchester Police.
Highways Agency staff are queuing up to volunteer to work on the day to keep the expected boom on vehicle numbers flowing as freely as possible.
There are hundreds and hundreds of messages of support of people offering to just turn up and make tea for everyone (never going to say no to that) and others the other end of the country wanting to make sandwiches, bake cakes, get up in the middle of the night and drive hundreds of miles to help keep everyone fed !
With all the police-bashing that has gone on lately from all sides, just ask yourself this: Where else would you get literally thousands of people, offering to work FOR FREE; at very short notice; on a day off, or even book annual leave, to do someone else’s job; to drive possibly hundreds of miles into the bargain; to cook and clean; to answer phones; to walk the streets; to deal with some of the worst that life can throw at us ?? – has this one tragic event alone, shown everyone that the United Kingdom still has the best police service in the world, and that the vast majority of the British public actually do believe in and support their police officers.
More importantly, will it be that if one positive thing can come out of the horrendous events of September 18th, will it be that the police and the public will begin to re-engage in a big way ??
Let’s also remember, this hasn’t been started by some kind of Mutual Aid request from GMP or any other force – it’s not a plan that’s been put together by any Chief Officer – it’s not really a ‘plan’ at all !! – this has purely been driven by, dare I say it, ‘frontline’ police officers, so shocked and numbed about what has happened that they felt the need to channel their emotions, very quickly, into something as positive as possible. I think we have achieved that.
As expected, there have been a few negative comments thrown my way about this whole idea, which I don’t think I worth giving penance to, but to the couple of people that have suggested I’m only doing this to try and get a promotion; Really ?? think about it – NO, not a chance !! and anyway I’m anonymous and intend to stay that way – I’m doing this because I’m in a position where I can, it’s as simple as that !
There is a heck of a lot of planning going on behind the scenes at Greater Manchester Police already, and any final decision on how they can best make use of the offers on the table has to be a logistical decision for them. I know that the Senior Officers are doing everything they can to make #CoverForGMP happen but of course, the wishes of the families affected will be paramount.
All updates will be announced immediately by GMP who will be in charge of any operation, the GMP Federation, Police Federation nationally, and will be cascaded via myself and also directly to all other UK police forces so please keep following on Twitter and/or Facebook for quickest updates. On Twitter make sure you are following:
@ConstableChaos – @MikePannett – @InspGadgetBlogs – @GMPolice – @GMPFederation
If possible, please do not call the number being re-posted on Facebook/Twitter for Greater Manchester Police. This is a General Enquiry Helpdesk number. The staff in there are being fantastic and they are recorded peoples info onto a database in readiness, but the number IS getting swamped and our calls may delay genuine requests for service from GMP getting through.
If you would like to add your support / comments, please do so here –> Calling All Cars … Would You #CoverForGMP – everything will be made available to GMP as required.
The most likely scenario is that each Police Force outside of GMP will be asked to collate and coordinate their own staff / officers. If you are GMP please speak with your Line Managers / Duties Teams. I’m not sure yet exactly what the plan is for members of the public offering help but this will be announced in due course as well.
The suggestion I have put forward to Senior people involved, based on feedback I’ve had, is that a number of officers working on a ‘mutual aid’ type basis could cover mobile patrols in the main areas, freeing up GMP officers, whilst the rest line the routes, in uniform. I must stress this is not a confirmed plan and is remember, subject to the families approval.
Once again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP, SUPPORT AND KIND WORDS.
One final note …. I was originally going to call this post ‘It Started With A Tweet’
“Eternal” a tribute to PC Fiona Bone and PC Nicola Hughes
I didn’t know them but I have been where they were. Running to a job in progress without thinking too much about what I was actually running toward.
I didn’t know them but I have done what they were doing. I joined for the same reasons. I had that Calling – the burning passion to help and make a difference.
I didn’t know them but I was once in their shoes being sent to the scene of some incident or other with the full intention of doing good when I got there.
I didn’t know them but I have left my family and loved ones at all hours of the day and night, accepting the dangers i might face but with the full expectation of returning home at the end of a shift.
I didn’t know them but I worked with people like them. I have seen their faces around every briefing room, in every station I have ever worked in. I have had the pleasure of working alongside them and supervising them and helping them achieve their goals.
I didn’t know them but I have had to deliver that painful message that a loved one isn’t ever coming home again.
I didn’t know them but I know the helplessness of desperately trying to save a life when you know all hope is gone.
I didn’t know them but they were my colleagues, my friends, my family.
I didn’t know Fiona or Nicola. But although I didn’t know them – I actually knew them very well indeed.
We weren’t in the same force but we were part of the same service.
That service, that family is now stricken at the loss of two sisters who were known and adored my many…
but who will be recognised, loved and mourned by thousands.
They have been taken from us cruelly and far too early.
I didn’t know them but my sorrow will last a lifetime.
My thanks for what they were doing for us all will be everlasting.
My pride in them….
I am currently a serving GMP Police Constable working on the Bolton Division. I did not know the girls personally, but a loss of two of our own is felt across the force. Therefore I wanted to do something to honour their memory. I have written this poem and I dedicate it to my two incredibly brave colleagues. I want to share this poem with as many people as possible and it has already received almost 1,000 likes and over 100 comments on Facebook in just 24 hours. I am speechless at the response my poem has received and have been truly humbled by some of the comments I have received. I dedicate it to the G Division’s two brave officers. Rest in peace girls xx
The alarm clock goes off, it’s early in the morn,
I rub my eyes as I let out a yawn.
As I dress my mind wonders of the day that lies ahead,
As I count the hours until I can return to my bed.
Another working day as I creep from my house,
Leaving loved ones to sleep, I’m as quiet as a mouse.
My car pulls from the drive, the radio blurs into life,
What will the day bring, what troubles, what strife?
There it is, my nick, I see it, I care,
As I pass by the badge I so proudly wear.
Vest on, belt on, to the parade room I go,
To my colleagues and friends, banter in full flow.
We’re briefed up and ready for the challenges of the day,
To serve and protect in every sigle way.
In our panda we patrol listening so carefully,
To the radio on which a call soon will there be.
And it comes, it’s inevitable, a job there for us,
A call for help, for the help of ‘the fuzz.’
“On route” I say as we continue to chat,
Most likely about refs or of this and of that.
All so quickly we arrive, to the house we draw near,
Then I see him, it’s him, I cannot move with fear.
The most wanted man standing here in front of me,
Then I see it, there’s a bang, all is still, this cannot be.
It’s dark, I’m alone, “What happened?” I say,
Why did this become that dreaded day?
I have a family, a life stretching out before me,
Though most just don’t see it, she’s just another PC.
Yes I have seen and done things that most of you fear,
For the job and the badge that I hold oh so dear.
But I’m not just a uniform, I’m a person too,
Yes I may be a bobby, but I’m someone’s daughter like you.
But today I have made the ultimate sacrifice,
With my life I have paid the largest price.
With pride and integrity, I did serve and protect,
Though at times it was hard and we were shown no respect.
But it was our job, off we went, so professional and formal,
Not knowing this day would be anything but normal.
I have no regrets, the service I willingly gave,
Day in and day out, I never saw it as brave.
And now I move on, new friends most I meet,
As I walk my shift on heaven’s beat.
But please don’t forget me, on parade I once sat,
Just a girl who happened to wear a bobby’s hat.
By PC Amie Holland, Bolton Division, Greater Manchester Police
Never Leave Home On A Bad Note …
This was a piece of sound advice given to me on Day One by my Tutor Constable, somewhere in the dim, dark and distant past of the Chaos career.
I never really understood why he was telling me this at the time, although he did quantify it by telling me that every now and then, someone will never get the chance to say ‘sorry’ when it’s needed ….. and that better not be me !
It was a bit deep for that moment, especially on my first ‘live’ morning in the job, when all I could think about was not bashing all the teacups onto the floor with my shiny new baton, or gazing in awe at the dozen or so ‘experienced’ police officers that now sat around me in the briefing room.
But the events in Manchester yesterday, have brought that one line straight back to the front of my mind. Now I’m not suggesting for one minute that either PC Fiona Bone or PC Nicola Hughes had had a cross word with anybody – as every early-turn officer did yesterday, they got up, went to work, and intended to spend the day doing the job they loved, helping the people of the area they served.
No one, absolutely no one, could have predicted the horrific turn of events that was to take place in Abbey Gardens, Mottram, Manchester, at around 11.00am.
As PC’s Bone and Hughes attended a perfectly routine report of a house burglary, something police officers up and down the country, both in uniform and CID do every single day, they were met in the street with a hail of gunfire and then a grenade being thrown towards them. Witnesses describe hearing ‘a dozen or so shots and then 10 seconds later a loud bang’.
One of the officers died at the scene and the other shortly afterwards in hospital.
Shortly afterwards, Dale Cregan, Manchester’s Most Wanted man, walked into Hyde Police Station and handed himself in. Initial reports suggest the original burglary call was a bogus report, made either by Cregan himself or someone acting on his behalf, and was made purely to lure police officers to the location with only one purpose in mind.
Virtually every police officer that was on duty yesterday went home to their partners, family and friends.
And as a result, the whole police family, across the UK and beyond, is mourning.
Yesterday afternoon I tweeted “with now 2 murdered police officers, today is not the day for cheap political point scoring
#GMP #RIP” and that was right. There was clearly a lot of anger showing in some of the comments being posted on various Social Media, but they are arguments for another day – a day when the facts are known and can be debated clearly and rationally.
Everyone’s thoughts had to be, and still do, with the immediate families, friends and colleagues of Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, two young women, doing nothing more than the job they love and trying to make Manchester a better place for everyone. Nicola for goodness sake was only 23 – I’ve got kids older than that !!!
Speaking of which my younger two, aged 14 and 9, were unusually quiet yesterday evening. One of them may still be fairly young but she’s very switched on, probably far more so than I was at her age. Having got past all the ‘nothings’ when asking them what was wrong, as I tucked the younger one into bed she said to me “You won’t get shot will you ?”. how can you answer that – I couldn’t. But it demonstrates very clearly just how far the repercussions of a madman’s actions quickly spread.
And so, back to my Tutors words of wisdom – Never Leave Home On A Bad Note …
We’ve all done it.
I’ve done it … grumbled at Mrs C over something completely trivial and pointless, so pointless in fact that by the time I’ve got into the car I can’t even remember what it was, or shouted at the kids for treading mushed up Chewits all over the living room carpet just as I was going out the door to start another Friday night shift in Chaos Town.
But I’ve been lucky. At the end of every shift I’ve returned home. Yes, there have been some close calls along the way – I’ve had knives, swords and machetes galore waved in my face – some of them very close, too close for comfort !!
I’ve been jumped on by three drugged crazed loopies, hell bent on stopping me from stopping them from doing what they want to do, with the resultant outcome being me losing two teeth and having my nose rearranged before my colleagues got to my aid.
I’ve even had a bus glance me as I was knelt in the road giving first aid to a seriously injured person – clearly the police car with big yellow and blue stickers, flashing blue lights and me wearing a hi vis yellow jacket wasn’t enough of a hazard warning for the driver !!!
But the point remains, at the end of every day – I’ve been lucky; I’ve come home, more or less in one piece. Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes didn’t get that option yesterday.
So what I will say, over and above my sympathies that have already been sent to the families of those affected; to the Greater Manchester Police, and to the policing family countrywide is this:
No matter what your day throws at you, life’s to short to be angry at those you love. Take that extra minute to say sorry; to say you love someone; for that hug; for that kiss. Don’t be the one for whom tomorrow never comes ….