Constable from 1972 - 1978
I joined the Bermuda Police in July 1972, after serving 3 years with Thames Valley Constabulary based at Cowley, and then Oxford. (I worked briefly with Pete ‘Shag’ Shaw before he went to Bermuda.)
I recently visited the Expo site (Jan 2016) and saw a picture of ex-C/Insp Dave Parsons sitting at Prospect Bar – if you have an opportunity tell him he hasn’t changed a bit since he met us (our contingent) at the airport in 1972 and escorted us into a transit van and took us (wilting in the heat and humidity in our blazers and long trousers) to Prospect, where we walked into a ‘fridge’ of a bar (never having experienced air conditioning) and were fed ice cold beer!!
I joined with a large intake including John Challis, Dale Thornton, Phil Bermingham, Terry Allebone, Colin Cocker, John Skinner, John Craid, Jim Brodie, Michael Dewar, Pete McNulty, and Peter White. Michael Ball, Mick Richardson, Brian Callaghan, Robert Durman, David St. John, and Dave Cooper all arrived 2 days later.
I served almost 7 years in the Bermuda Police, meeting my wife Finola, who was a new born nursery nurse at KEMH, and last year we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.
We have returned to Bermuda several times over the years – the most memorable times being in 2001, the day after 9/11, and in Aug 2010, to celebrate my 60th birthday (a complete surprise present from my two daughters and their husbands, who also came on the trip with us) . We celebrated at the Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club with, amongst others, Pete Giles, Dave Cook, Dave Cooper, Steve Rollins, Ian Morrison and Rex Osborne.
I spent the majority of my service in St Georges (although posted to Hamilton initially and spending time in the ‘Birdcage’’) under the auspices of Sgt Arthur Bean and then Sgt John ‘Rigor’ Morris on shift, and then Sgt. Brian Flook, as Hamilton Parish Constable (having taken over from John ‘Fingers’ Freeborough when he left to go back to UK). We lived in Ferry Reach, St George’s, in an apartment owned by Audrey and Mervyn Moorhead, who became our firm friends. Mervyn sadly passed away in 2013.
In November 1978 we decided that we would leave Bermuda and join the family hotel business in Killin, Perthshire, in Scotland. Unfortunately Hotel/Pub life wasn’t the future for us and so we moved to the South of England and I rejoined the Thames Valley Police, going through basic training for the second time in 10 years – much easier though this time round having matured and gained experience abroad.
We settled into a Police House in Slough, my first posting! (lovely place after Bermuda!!) and Finola got a job in a local Doctors surgery. We lived there for 2 years, with me walking the beat and cycling the streets as an area constable, before buying our first house and starting a family.
Incidentally, pay was so bad during that period that I applied to rejoin the Bermuda Police. I was sent a telegram from Bda Police HQ’s asking me for my first available date to fly back! I queried whether my previous service would be counted, and had a very nice letter back from George Garrod (R.I.P) saying I would have to start all over again on a 5 year contract, and the Public Services Commission would then decide – Finola was pregnant, we were buying our first house, and Maggie Thatcher increased Police Pay by a huge amount, so we decided (perhaps wrongly) to stay put.
In May 1981 our first daughter Olivia was born, and then in March 1984, our second daughter Stephanie was born. In the meantime I had joined the first TVP Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Group based at HQ’s, formed as a result of the IRA Brighton Hotel bombing. For a while I became the Personal Protection Officer to Norman Tebbit, while he spent time recuperating from his wounds at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where his wife Margaret was being treated for paralysing back injuries.
In 1985 I was promoted to Uniform Sergeant with my own shift based at Gerrads Cross, and in 1988 was posted to armed protection at Chequers Court, with Maggie Thatcher in residence. In 1990 I was posted again to the TVP HQ’s Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Group, based at Windsor Police Station, this time assisting the Met Protection Group whenever they came into our area, which was frequent as you can imagine. We looked after both Royalty and Government (Domestic or foreign) personnel and I had 4 years of the most fantastic experiences. I was wonderfully supported by Finola, who not only was raising our two daughters but was also established part time as a Nurse Practitioner at a local surgery, specialising in Diabetics.
In 1994, I returned to uniform, but still on the Protection Group, this time based at Ludgrove School, near Wokingham, where I was I/C security for the Princes William and Harry. Then I followed William to Eton College, where again I was in charge of his security.
In 1995 I was again posted to Windsor, but this time as a Detective Sergeant on HQ’s Special Branch. I had nearly two brilliant, unforgettable year's working in and around Windor, before being promoted in 1997 to Uniform Inspector posted to HQ’s Control Room, becoming one of 4 Inspectors working shifts and being responsible for the Force on behalf of the Chief Constable.
In 1999 I went to Aylesbury as uniform Operations Manager and in 2000 I was posted to High Wycombe as shift Inspector – a carrot and stick which eventually got me I/C my own 2 Police Stations at Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield.
Unfortunately, no sooner had I got there when the dreaded Bowel Cancer struck! I spent a year convalescing after complications, being nursed and comforted by my wonderful wife. (and incidentally spending lots of time at Flint House Police Convalescent Home – a remarkable place) I returned to work fighting fit in 2004 to take over the ID Parade Department for the Buckinghamshire Police Area (by then completely computerised and known as V.I.P.E.R – Video Identification Parade Electronically Recorded). I retired from there in 2006 having had a wonderful, remarkable 37 plus years Police career.
We now have a lovely granddaughter, Fianna, aged 21 months with Stephanie and her husband Chris, and are looking forward to our second grandchild,as of the date of this writing, with our other daughter Olivia and husband Mark, due on 21st of Jan 2016 ! (See below)
One thing that Finola and I say to each other, our other home is in Bermuda and we have very fond memories of our times there.
One other thing to add – surprisingly, both Finola and I have applied for and are receiving a small old age State Pension from Bermuda for the time we spent there – not a fortune, but as they say, better that a poke in the eye with a blunt stick!!!
All the very best to everyone and a Happy and Peaceful 2016
Since initially sending us this article, Doug and Finola, have been blessed with their second grandchild, a beautiful baby boy named Theo born on 28th January 2016 to proud parents Olivia and Mark.