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PC Andrew Harper’s coffin was draped in a police flag

The widow of a police officer killed on duty said he was “gentle giant with a heart of gold” as she addressed hundreds of people at his funeral.

Uniformed colleagues of PC Andrew Harper lined the route as the cortege made its way to the private service at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.

The 28-year-old died after being dragged under a vehicle on a road near Sulhamstead, Berkshire, on 15 August.

His widow Lissie Harper said he “wore his uniform with pride”.

Reading the eulogy, she said: “You used to tell me we were a team and that we would get through all of life’s hurdles together, how I wish you were here with me now. The hardest challenge of all is losing you.

“Keeping everyone safe was your priority, not only in your job but with your family too. Everything was always okay when you were around.

“Although Andrew was strong he was also unfailingly kind, a gentle giant with a heart of gold.”

The couple, who were childhood sweethearts and had been together for 13 years, had only been married for four weeks.

She added: “He was my hero and his spirit will live on in my memories forever.”


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Family handout

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PC Andrew Harper had married his wife Lissie four weeks before his death

Earlier members of the public paid their respects as the cortege led by mounted officers travelled through Oxford before the service, which was attended by 800 mourners.

The coffin was draped in a navy flag with a police crest on the side and was carried into the cathedral at 11:00 BST by six officers.

Leading the service, the Dean of Christ Church the Very Rev Dr Martyn Percy said: “The tributes that have poured in for Andrew exemplify a truly outstanding young man, but also the very best virtues in policing.

“He represented policing at its best. He was everything you wanted in a police officer. Authentic, brave, genuine, and kind.”


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PA Media

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Lissie Harper left a symbol of her husband’s life during the service

Mrs Harper placed her husband’s police hat on his coffin, while members of PC Harper’s family also laid symbols of his life in front of a large photograph of him inside the cathedral.

Songs by Shirley Bassey and Russell Watson were played during the service, in addition to performances from the cathedral’s choir.

Colleague PC Jordan Johnstone paid tribute to his “infectious smile and relentless humour”.

“I’m privileged to have worked with you and even more so to call you my friend,” he added.

At the scene

By BBC News correspondent Helena Wilkinson in Oxford


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PA Media

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Officers lined the streets as the cortege travelled through Oxford

PC Harper had married his childhood sweetheart Lissie just 28 days before he died.

Today she, with other family and friends, came to Christ Church Cathedral to say their final goodbye.

People who didn’t know him came out to pay their respects. Hundreds of officers from PC Harper’s force also lined the route. Many looked as young as he was.

As the hearse led by officers on horseback passed, silence fell. Officers bowed their heads. Some people in the crowds began to cry.

Through the glass of the hearse PC Harper’s coffin could be seen draped in a Thames Valley Police flag.

A young officer who died while doing his job. A hero to so many.

PC Harper, from Wallingford in Oxfordshire, was killed on the A4 Bath Road while investigating a reported break-in.

Thames Valley Police Federation chairman Craig O’Leary said PC Harper was “a hero” who “loved being a police officer”.

The force said its flags would be flying at half-mast as a mark of respect to the officer.

It added on Twitter: “Today is going to be a tough day for all our officers, staff and volunteers as we pay tribute to our fallen colleague.”


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PA Media

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Lissie Harper placed her husband’s police hat on his coffin

Three teenagers remain in custody charged with murdering PC Harper.

Henry Long, 18, from Mortimer in Reading, and two 17-year-old boys, who cannot be named because of their age, are accused of murder and conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

Thomas King, 21, from Basingstoke, is also accused of conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

Jed Foster was also accused of murder but prosecutors dropped his charges following further police investigation.

Lissie Harper’s tribute


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Thames Valley Police

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PC Andrew Harper’s order of service

Today I would like to remember and honour the kind brave and lovely man we all know. We are all here just for you.

From the ever sweet, lanky, red faced boy passing me notes in class, to the strong and loyal man you grew to be. I have always known how special you are. We often talked about how lucky we were to have found and kept each other, true childhood sweethearts, loving one another more and more with each passing day. Not a day went past that we didn’t say I love you.

You used to tell me we were a team and that we would get through all of life’s hurdles together, how I wish you were here with me now. The hardest challenge of all is losing you.

We managed to pack so many amazing memories into the last 13 years, travelling the world, buying a house and getting married. You had a contagious love for life, filling each day with laughter and appreciating all the little things.

You have always been a protector. Whether in your role of big brother, fierce friend, loving husband or keeper of peace among the public, keeping everyone safe was your priority, not only in your job but your family too. Everything was always okay when you were around.

Although Andrew was strong he was also unfailingly kind, a gentle giant with a heart of gold. He wore his uniform with pride and vowed to challenge the bad and celebrate the good.

He loved to be part of a team and had a work ethic to admire. Looking around me today I know that he was classed so very highly among his peers, known for being proactive, kind and fair.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

 

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