Police officers embark on 260-mile bike ride in memory of fallen colleagues

The five-strong group of police officers are taking part in The Police Unity Tour, which aims to raise money for the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) – a charity which supports families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.

The tour is an annual long-distance ride that sees hundreds of police officers, staff, and families converge on the UK Police Memorial at the National Arboretum, in Staffordshire, to remember their heroic fallen.

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The Northern Echo: Police officers departed from Durham Force HQ this morning.Police officers departed from Durham Force HQ this morning. (Image: The Northern Echo)

Assistant Chief Constable Tonya Antonis, Inspector Ed Turner, and Sergeant Pete Tate set off on their four-day ride, during which they will cover 260 miles, before arriving at the arboretum on Sunday where they will take part in a special service to remember those who have lost their lives on duty.

They are also joined by Inspector Lee Morris and Phil Stephenson, from Durham Police Federation, who will be providing support to the riders throughout their journey.

The trio left Durham Police HQ in the city, and cycled first to Coxhoe, to pay tribute to Durham officer, PC William Shiell, who was tragically shot dead after responding to reports of a burglary in the spring of 1940.

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The Northern Echo: Cyclists wore wristbands engraved with the names of fallen officers.Cyclists wore wristbands engraved with the names of fallen officers. (Image: The Northern Echo)

The 29-year-old officer left behind a young widow and a three-year-old daughter. All of Coxhoe stopped work for his funeral, at which around 200 of his fellow officers attended.

His killers, William Appleby and Vincent Ostler, from Bradford, were convicted of the murder and sentenced to death by hanging on July 10, 1940.

From Coxhoe, the cyclists then headed to York where they will join other riders from the North East Chapter and make the onward journey to Staffordshire over the next three days.

To donate, visit their Just Giving page here.

ACC Antonis, who is taking part in the full event for the first time, said: “This is a very special event, and it is a real honour to be part of it this year.

“Every day our officers and staff head off to work and put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities; but tragically, some of them don’t return home to their families after their shift has ended.

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“This event is a way to honour our colleagues who have made the ultimate sacrifice and to raise awareness for the amazing work that COPS does in supporting their bereaved families.”

Inspector Turner added: “It is always a real privilege to take part in this event. It is more than just a cycle ride – it is a chance for us to collectively ride in memory of our fallen colleagues, to show that we, as a police service, will never forget their sacrifice.

“This challenge is not about any of us riders, but for the families of the colleagues we’ve lost in the line of duty. We serve and ride for them.”

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