94th Annual Requiem – 2016
The Annual Requiem was held at Westminster Cathedral on 16th. November with the Mass celebrated by His Eminence Cormac Cardinal Emeritus Murphy O’Connor. He was assisted by Father Barry Lomax, the National Chaplain to the Guild along with Essex Chaplain Father Paul Fox, Father Gerald Flood, and other priests. Deacon, Tony Hunt read the Gospel. Also present in the sanctuary were several chaplains from other forces including, Thames Valley, West Midlands, the Met, Hertfordshire, Cheshire and North Wales constabularies.
The first reading was given by Chief Constable Andy Cooke of Merseyside police and the second reading by PC Emma Chambers from Essex.
Chief Officer guests included Deputy Chief Constables Tim Madgwick (North Yorks), John Campbell (Thames Valley), Nick Dean (Norfolk), Assistant Chief Constables Maurice Mason (Essex), Mike Colbourne (Bedfordshire), Jeremy Vaughan (South Wales) and Andy McDyer (Humberside).
Other guests present were, Detective Superintendents Thistlethwaite (Lancashire), Noel Mullan (Police Service of Northern Ireland) and Chief Inspector James Sutherland (Cambridgeshire).
The large congregation of members of the Guild and their families along with Friends of the Guild and other worshippers watched as a police helmet and woman officer’s bowler were escorted to the sanctuary flanked by members of the Essex Cadet Force. The headgear was placed before the altar along with a wreath of poppies.
For the first time, the Metropolitan Police Choir (an amalgam of the Metropolitan Police Male Voice Choir and the Commissioner’s Office Choir) sang the Mass under the direction of Richard Fox. Many of the congregation later echoed the comments of the Cardinal in his praise of the choir’s contribution. Their contribution was so perfectly augmented by trumpeter, Alex Williams, a serving Met officer, who played the Last Post and Reveille.
Cardinal Cormac spoke warmly in his homily of the work of the police even relating two of his experiences of having been stopped by police whilst driving. We were so fortunate to have the Cardinal say the Mass and to have the benefit of his kind words. At the reception, he was presented with a Catholic Police Guild plaque by our Chair of the Guild, Superintendent Donna Allen.
After the Mass, the poppy wreath was carried to St Patricks Chapel and ceremoniously placed at the foot of the plaque to the Royal Irish Constabulary in memory of the numerous officers of Northern Ireland who, over the years, have lost their lives to terrorists. This task was carried out by Detective Superintendent Mullan of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in a most respectful and solemn way and in the presence of the other senior officers. In carrying out this task he walked in the footsteps of Sir Ronnie Flanagan who, whilst Chief Constable of the RUC, had similarly laid a wreath at this spot when a guest at the Requiem.
This was also the first Requiem organised by Sergeant Paul Totham from the Met. He had liaised meticulously with Father Andrew Gallagher, the Precentor for the Cathedral to ensure that the event worked as clockwork. Well done Paul.
Another attendee was long-standing member and past chairman of the Guild, Bob Gravells who attended yet again with his dear wife Kathleen. Bob, now in his 93rd year, was probably the only one present to display WWII medals alongside his police awards. Most importantly, for the first time, he was wearing his insignia of the Légion d’honneur which had, just recently, been presented to him by the French Ambassador in London for his wartime efforts in the D-Day Landings. Congratulations, Bob – one of our own heroes!
The gathering in the hall following the Mass is probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of this occasion. To see so many old friends reunited to swap stories and others making new friends and acquaintances is a real pleasure for those involved in the planning the Requiem. We hope that as many as possible are able to return next year.
A final thank you to those ladies of the Guild who serve so much tea and coffee and up-market biscuits. Anne Smith who has taken on the task of co-ordinating this important aspect for so many years now has recruited a regular group of sturdy helpers. Thank you ladies.
We wish every success to our Chair, Donna Allen and her committee in their work. I am sure that we will continue to support them in their untiring efforts in promoting the Catholic Police Guild nationally.
A special thank you to everyone who attended the Mass and we hope to see you in future years.
Bernard James Luckhurst QPM,