Public service and personal sacrifice

 

PC Nicola Hughes' funeral held at Manchester Cathedral

At lunchtime today the normally bustling city of Manchester paused to pay tribute.

Hundreds of police officers from every rank and branch filed solemnly into the cathedral as thousands more lined the streets, boots and service medals shining in the autumn sun.

Among the many ordinary Mancunians who stopped to pay their respects, few knew Nicola Hughes. But they know what she stood for; the values she lived for; the values she died for.

It was a crime that saw the nation catch its breath: two constables hurrying to answer what they thought was a call for help from a stranger when, upon the ordinary lawn of an unremarkable house, their lives were cut short in an explosion of bullets and grenade shrapnel.

'Act of solidarity'

Such extreme, unprovoked violence is mercifully rare in this country and that, in part, is what made it so shocking. But the outrage was deepened because the victims were doing their duty: unarmed, young women who had taken an oath to protect and serve others.

From across the United Kingdom, the police family gathered in Manchester - an act of solidarity between colleagues and recognition of the risks all officers swear to accept whenever they wear the badge.

Some came to attend the funeral. But two representatives from each of the 53 UK forces were in the city to help patrol its streets, allowing local officers to say their farewell to a friend and workmate: the gesture a reminder that responsibility for safeguarding our communities never stops.

It was not a day for salutes, but for bowed heads. At the family's request, those policemen and women paying their respects in Manchester did so with a gesture that spoke to the humanity of Nicola Hughes: a moment to grieve; a time to reflect.

Nicola was just 23 years old, having joined Greater Manchester Police three years ago. She died, her mother Susan said, "doing the job she loved".

Her colleague and friend 32-year-old Fiona Bone had served for five years. Tomorrow, the city will pause once again to grieve for the death of one of its constables, an officer described as "a calm, gentle, woman".

Funerals are occasions to mourn what we have lost, but also to remind ourselves what we still have. Today the police paid their respects to a colleague greatly missed. But the public was also paying tribute to those who continue to protect, those who continue to serve.

 
Mark Easton Article written by Mark Easton Mark Easton Home editor

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 75.

    Watching the funeral i was constantly reminded of people like Jean Charles de Menezes, Ian Tomlinson and Mark Duggan and wondered what they would think of it all.
    ------------------------
    Probably sad as all right thinking people would be. Cheap political point scoring is bit off on the day of any funeral.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 74.

    Think it was purely the people working in "media city" who lined the streets to give themselves a story. Anyway I expect this comment will be banned because it doesn't toe the line
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    Well no ban (sorry). As to all being media type -doesn't sound like it.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 73.

    After al the handwringing , soul searching, and platitudes, nothing will change. The unarmed police will still be faced with dealing with the lowest forms of human life as part of their everyday job. Due to the liberality of our judiciary , they will continue to be faced with the criminally insane and the most violent of people who should be incarcerated where they are not a public danger.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 72.

    I have no words for this tragedy, but my heart hurts.
    One of the most beautiful tributes was placed on YouTube.com at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP4RbYIsfok
    I hope you have the opportunity to watch.
    My tears are visible, but not the thought that says: You did your duty. May you now rest in the bossom of God.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 71.

    68 GMP have to do more than soul searching. This was not forseen & couldn't have been. Niether the police or anyone else are Gods. They are doing their best....This column is not about politics or asking questions or questioning tax. It's about the fact two lives were violently and without reason taken away pointlessly and people cannot help but reflect on it and respond in their own way to it..

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 69.

    68.Name Number 6 - ".....But a ship sinking is very political, questions have to be asked, what mistakes were made?......"


    If you had asked 'were any mistakes made' you'd have a valid arguement but you have stated that mistakjes were made - if you know they were why ask, if you don't know how can you claim they were...??? Shame on you.....

  • rate this
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    Comment number 68.

    67. Joyanblu
    66. To say that all tragedies are political is very misleading & untrue..
    a ship sinking isn't political or hurricane damage etc.
    +++
    But a ship sinking is very political, questions have to be asked, what mistakes were made? Is anyone culpable? etc. etc.

    Perhaps it is the time for grief but the questions still remain.

    GMP has to do more than soul searching.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 67.

    66. To say that all tragedies are political is very misleading & untrue....my parents death was a tragedy for me but it wasn't political....in fact most tragedies aren't....a ship sinking isn't political or hurricane damage etc. I'm sorry that a different opinion is disconcerting to you....I'm certainly not insulted by differing opinions. I will stick to my own thanks..wrong forum to discuss tax

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 66.

    63. Joyanblu

    Question politics all you want in the right place but don't turn a tragedy into a political issue
    +++
    All tragedies are political. I must admit that I find public outpourings of grief for people you didn't know a little bit unusual, I also find it rather disconcerting that anyone who feels this way is insulted by those that don't.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 65.

    I've never seen so many comments removed for breaking the house rules!

    On topic, I don't this mentality of mourning for strangers like they were your parents. Standing silent and respectfully is enough, but people shouldn't break down in tears for people they didn't know (I mean the public, not other police officers). Also clapping at funerals and processions, when did that become a thing?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 64.

    Congratulations to the people of Manchester for so seamlessly observing this gesture.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 63.

    61 lets try again, I am not insulting the questioners. I am merely pointing out that this forum should be about the two murdered officers. Tax and how it is spent is not, and should not be part of this column. Question politics all you want in the right place but don't turn a tragedy into a political issue

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 60.

    The people who question the taxpayers etc probably don't even pay tax themselves..live on benefits and get buried by the state as well. These were two human beings and deserved better . The one who killed them will now get psych help and excuses and drugs, three meals a day, TV and education...for fifteen years. These two women now have six feet of earth or a box of ashes...not a life. RIP to both

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 58.

    It's nice to see the public support and shared grieving insofar as it may bring some unity from such a terrible thing. Thank you to all the police.

    I've seen policing all over the world, and you will not find a better, more civilised and human policeperson as you will here in the UK.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 57.

    @52.Leadroady

    I quite agree; but opening that debate on this forum is hardly appropriate and it's frankly offensive and insensitive.

    I think a corrupt dishonest police force is offensive and insensitive but i have to put up with them having a disproportionate advantage over me when it comes to legal matters of all kinds every day of my life, you do too but you just dont care...yet.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 56.

    @12 Justmarkus.....

    You really need to get your facts straight.

    Most of the police officers at the funeral today and no doubt tomorrow are from other police forces across the UK, and these are all off-duty officers.

    The officers from GMP were relieved of duty by the fact that 2 officsers from every force went to cover for their GMP colleagues.

 

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