South Shields police officer reunited with helmet 50 years on
A police officer has been reunited with the helmet he wore more than half a century ago.
Thomas Parker, 73, joined South Shields Police in 1965 and served for 30 years before retiring in 1995.
His hat was found in a charity shop with "PC 40 T.Parker" etched inside and given to PC James Gordon at a crime prevention event in South Tyneside.
After being traced on social media, Mr Parker was invited to Millbank station and presented with his helmet.
"I got a call from one of my colleagues this week," he said.
"I couldn't believe what I was hearing - I thought he was pulling my leg."
The retired officer said he was grateful to be reunited with his helmet and his time in the police force was "wonderful".
"When I started, there were 21 beats in South Shields. I worked in an old blue police box which had an orange flashing light on the top," he said.
"I went on to work in the CID in Sunderland in the mid-1970s, and then in the early 1980s I returned to South Shields and worked on some big jobs there, including burglaries, rape and drug cases."
It is believed the helmet got lost after South Shields Police changed to Durham Constabulary and equipment was handed in.
Mr Parker was given a tour of Millbank station and met current serving officers.
Ch Supt Sarah Pitt of Northumbria Police said: "We thought it was only right to invite Tommy into the station to hear about his days as an officer and talk about the way policing has transformed over the years."