Community vigil for hero PC who died during Cumbrian floods

Thursday, 11 November, 2010

PC Bill Barker

The family of PC Bill Barker who died last November during the Cumbrian floods are hosting a vigil for the local community to mark one year anniversary of the devastating event.

PC Barker died on 20 November 2009 when Northside Bridge collapsed during the floods. Last month an inquest heard how he was responding to calls that a vehicle had dropped into the water when the bridge collapsed beneath him.

Now one year to the day Hazel Barker and her children are inviting community members, emergency responders, volunteers and anyone touched by the floods to join them in a special remembrance event in his name in Workington on Saturday 20th November 2010.

Mrs Barker says her aim is to mark the anniversary by paying tribute to all those affected and for all lives lost not only in the floods but during all the major tragedies that have affected the region in recent month's.

She said: "The devastating events of November 2009 have had a detrimental and profound affect on both myself and our four children. However we also recognise the extremely difficult year it has been for all the amazing communities of Cumbria so it is also important to us that we remember all the events over the last year which our communities have suffered. They have endured the floods, the loss of the two young lives of Chloe Walker and Kieran Goulding during the Keswick School bus crash in May and Mr Short just a few days later, all before the tragic loss of life in June during the horrific shootings in the west of the county.

"This event is to pay tribute to all that Cumbria has endured and our way of saying a huge thank you for the amazing and unstinting support that people so freely give. Thank You just isn't enough!"

Next Saturday's event will take place from 5pm until 6pm on Tesco's car-park near to The River Derwent close to the place where PC Barker lost his life whilst protecting the Cumbrian communities. All are invited to attend.

It will include performances by local vocalist Emma Dockeray and local unsigned group Funbus. Many members of the band are serving or retired Police Officers and they have written and produced their own vocal tribute to the people of Cumbria called 'Rains Came Down'.

Personal tributes will be led by Hazel, Chief Constable Craig Mackey, Workington MP Tony Cunningham and the Mayor of Allerdale Bob Hardon.

Chief Constable Craig Mackey, said: "Hazel and the family are very close to the Constabulary and one year on we are all still deeply affected by our loss. This special event is a chance for us to come together to remember Bill and all that we as a community have been through over the last year. Bill will never be forgotten and his memory will live on in all the special events and fundraising which has taken place in his name."

Tony Cunningham MP, said: "The events of November 2009 were devastating and caused severe disruption to peoples lives however the last year has shown the resilience of our communities and that if we support each other we can get through the worst of times. I am honoured to be attending this event and our thoughts and prayers will always be with Hazel and the family."

Councillor Robert Hardon, the Mayor of Allerdale, said: "We shall all unite as one to give thanks to PC Barker and all those who have helped our battered and bruised communities to come through what has been a tremendously difficult year. We look to the future with renewed hope and the strength to continue building on the firm foundations which have been put in place for West Cumbria to fully recover."

The finale will be a lantern release followed by a 1 minute's silence for the victims this will then be followed by a special 'firework tribute' saluting the resilience of the people of West Cumbria.

The event is open to everyone and will be a fitting tribute giving people of all ages the opportunity to reflect through the music and lanterns before taking in the very symbiotic fireworks tribute which will form the bridge site itself.

A blessing will be given by Reverend Iain Grainger, the vicar of Northside Church.

The vigil will be followed by a ticketed evening of fundraising and entertainment at the Washington central at Workington from 7pm. All proceeds made from the event will be going to Care of Police Survivors (COPS) and The Great North Air Ambulance.

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