Durham police officers embark on Police Unity Tour bike ride

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Officers from Durham Constabulary began a 260-mile charity bike ride on Thursday, July 27. This ride is in memory of their colleagues who have fallen in the line of duty, whose names were also engraved on wristbands the cyclists wore. 

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

The tour is an annual effort that hundreds of police officers, staff and families take part in. They converge on the UK Police Memorial at the National Arboretum, in Staffordshire, to remember the fallen.

Assistant Chief Tonya Antonis, Inspector Ed Turner and Sergeant Pete Tate set off on their four-day ride which will cover 260 miles. When they arrived at the arboretum on Sunday, July 30 they took part in a special service to remember those who lost their lives while on duty. 

Inspector Lee Morris and Phil Stephenson, from Durham Police Federation, also joined the efforts and will be providing their support to the riders as they make their journey. 

“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”

ACC Tonya antonis

The three officers left Durham Police HQ and first cycled to Coxhoe where they paid tribute to Durham officer, PC William Shiell, who was tragically shot after responding to reports of a burglary in the spring of 1940. The officer, only 29 when he was shot, left behind a young widow and a three-year-old daughter. The community of Coxhoe stopped working for his funeral and came together to show their support.

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

The cyclists’ next stop is York where they will join other riders from the North East Chapter. Together they will make their way to Staffordhsire. 

“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.”

inspector turner

It is ACC Antonis’ first time taking part in the event. She 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.”

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

Inspector Turner said, “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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