PC Nicola Hughes' funeral held at Manchester Cathedral

Thousands lined Deansgate to watch the cortege pass by on its way to Manchester Cathedral, where tributes were paid

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The funeral of PC Nicola Hughes, who was killed alongside a colleague, has taken place at Manchester Cathedral.

The 23-year-old Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer was shot alongside PC Fiona Bone when they were called to a burglary in Mottram.

Thousands of people lined Deansgate in the city centre to watch the cortege pass by, led by six mounted officers.

Police formed a guard of honour outside the cathedral as officers carried her coffin inside for the service.

Her coffin was shrouded with a black police flag and had PC Hughes' police hat and gloves on top.

The Police Federation had urged members of the public to join officers in standing along the route of the procession.

Spontaneous applause came from the crowd as the procession went along Deansgate before the service and a number of people threw flowers as the cortege passed.

PC Nicola Hughes PC Nicola Hughes had "huge amounts of energy and initiative"

The coffin was led into the cathedral to Pie Jesu sung by the cathedral choir.

The family of PC Hughes then entered the cathedral, including her mother Susan, father Bryn and younger brother Sam.

Opening the service, Chaplain for GMP The Reverend Charles Nevin said: "What we cannot change what has been, we cannot turn back the clock but we can show by our presence in this cathedral, and in the streets, homes and offices of this land, that we stand beside you."

Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester force, Sir Peter Fahy, paid tribute to PC Hughes.

He said she had a great sense of humour and "huge amounts of energy and initiative".

Sir Peter added: "Despite her young years she was incredibly mature.

"Nicola in her dedication and professionalism in the way she carried out her duties showed that policing is not about muscle but is about reason, restraint and intelligence.

"She had a promising career ahead of her but was driven not by personal ambition but by service to the public in need.

"It is abhorrent that she met her death through an evil and dark act.

"She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her. We will never forget her great sacrifice."

Poems and Bible readings were also given by some of her colleagues.

At the scene

It was the silence that was most striking.

Long before the hearse even appeared this corner of Manchester was hushed. And yet Deansgate - one of the city's main streets - was packed with thousands of people.

The arrival of the cortege was announced by the ripple of applause which preceded it. Police officers bowed their heads.

Many wore medals. Some were in full ceremonial dress. They'd started arriving from around the UK in large numbers from 10 o'clock.

The wind was a little unforgiving. But the sun was bright as PC Nicola Hughes' coffin was carried, draped in a black police flag, into Manchester Cathedral as a single bell was struck.

Sgt Stephen Lovatt read Death Is Nothing At All, Insp Jane Brown read Don't Let Your Hearts Be Troubled and Sgt Gordon Swan read Feel No Guilt In Laughter.

One of PC Hughes' colleagues, Sgt Stephen Miskell, paid tribute to her during the service, saying: "Nicola, with only three years' service, was already greatly respected and loved by her colleagues, who would variously describe her as being friendly, full of life, always willing to give a helping hand, as keen as mustard, as brave as they come and the chatterbox who always kept kept everybody else awake."

Family, friends and colleagues of PC Hughes were inside the cathedral, while the service was also broadcast on a screen in Cathedral Gardens for hundreds of people gathered outside.

The Greater Manchester Police flag flew at half mast above the building. After the service, a private funeral was held.

The Police Federation had urged members of the public to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the police.

Ian Hanson, chairman of the Greater Manchester branch of the federation, said: "We do a difficult job, we do a dangerous job and people respect the job that is done, and perhaps sometimes we lose sight of that, but what has happened in recent weeks is the support of the community has polarised and it has got behind GMP.

"What I would like to see over the next few days is that everybody come to the city centre and stand shoulder to shoulder."

Police chiefs said they had been overwhelmed and heartened by the public support, with more than 25,000 messages of condolence on its website, 19,000 via Facebook and another 1,000 on Twitter.

Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said every police officer wanted to pay their respects.

"Policing is a police family and there is a real desire for every officer from every force to pay their respects in the best way they could, whilst still delivering a 24-hour service," he said.

The funeral of 32-year-old PC Bone will take place at the cathedral at 10:00 on Thursday.

The unarmed police constables had been sent to Abbey Gardens in Mottram on 18 September to investigate what appeared to be a routine burglary report when they were killed in a gun and grenade attack.

Police officers formed a guard of honour at Manchester Cathedral Police officers formed a guard of honour at Manchester Cathedral as the coffin of PC Nicola Hughes was carried inside

Dale Cregan, 29, is in custody charged with the officers' murders, along with those of two other men.

The family of PC Hughes, who lived in Oldham with her mother, said she "died doing a job she loved".

PC Hughes joined Greater Manchester Police in 2009, serving all three years with the Tameside division.

In tribute to her, her colleagues said: "She was a chatterbox and was always smiling, even after a night shift when everyone else was a bit grumpy."

Sir Peter Fahy said PCs Hughes and Bone "exemplified the very best of British policing".

Sir Peter Fahy: "It is abhorrent that she met her death through an evil, dark act"

One of the thousands who turned out to watch the cortege was Beryl Cowen, a street pastor in Stalybridge.

She met PC Hughes early one morning when she was on patrol in the town.

"We asked her if she enjoyed her job, she said, 'I love every minute of it'.

"She had a wonderful smile, she was really happy with what she did and it was a real tragedy what happened.

"She was there doing her job, a job she loved, and we just feel so sad.

"The turnout here is wonderful, I don't think I could be anywhere else but here today."

The Police Federation is selling wristbands in honour of the officers, with all money raised to be donated to their families.

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