Hundreds of officers attend memorial service for Paul McKeever at Southwark Cathedral.
The late Police Federation Chairman Paul McKeever was “one of the finest police officers in the finest Police Service in the world”, a service in his memory has heard.
Mr McKeever, who became Fed chairman in 2008, joined the Met in 1977 and was two weeks away from retirement when he died suddenly on January 17 aged just 57.
Today (February 9), Southwark Cathedral, which has a capacity of around 1,200, was filled by hundreds of friends and colleagues for a service to celebrate his life.
The service included tributes from his widow Charmian and daughter Henrietta. There was also a guard of honour that included Fed reps, Police National Memorial Day founder Joe Holness and Ch Supt Derek Barnett, the outgoing president of the Superintendents’ Association.
Attendees included Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, ACPO President Sir Hugh Orde, Home Secretary Theresa May and HMCIC Tom Winsor – as well as hundreds of officers from all ranks.
The tributes at the service painted a picture of a thoughtful, intelligent man who was, according to one speaker, â€œserious about the Job but never serious about himselfâ€.
Clive Chamberlain, Chairman of Dorset Police Federation, told the audience: â€œPaul was one of the finest police officers in the finest Police Service in the world. He took the Job seriously but never himself. He had a high degree of intelligence and common sense and he was great fun to be with. His opinions were firmly held, gently expressed.â€
The service began with a video showcasing Mr McKeever’s career as an officer and Fed chairman. It included his address to Fed’s annual conference in May last year, when he told the audience: â€œWe are extremely proud to be British police officers. It is still, colleagues, the finest boast in this country to say ‘I am a British police officer’. And I am very proud to lead you.â€
Charmian McKeever, who had been looking forward to her husband’s imminent retirement, said she felt â€œprivilegedâ€ to have been married to him.
â€œHe was extremely committed to giving his all for the job he loved,â€ she said. â€œI long for him to come through the door and say ‘it’s me, I’m home’. I feel angry he will never fully realise his personal and our joint dreams in his retirement.
â€œBut the Lord had other plans for him. I must trust the Lord will give me the faith and strength to come through this. I feel privileged to have been his wife.â€
Both Charmian and Henrietta McKeever described his â€œdevilishâ€ sense of humour. Henrietta described the time, as a youngster, she desperately wanted a hamster and pleaded with her father for one.
He eventually claimed to have relented and gave her a piece of ham in a bowl with a spoon and told her it was â€œham stirâ€.
A keen hill walker, Mr McKeever would invite visitors to go on a short walk and they would accept, not realising how long his definition of a â€œa short walkâ€ was, the service heard.
On the regular family visits to Austria, they would take a ride in a horse and carriage ride and Mr McKeever would â€œwave regallyâ€ at passersby.
His daughter Henrietta mentioned how his intellectual nature meant asking him questions often led to â€œdeep debatesâ€ on the subject.
She would sometimes regret ever asking when this happened but told the service: â€œI would give anything to have another one of those debates again.â€
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe led the service in prayers and Theresa May read a Bible verse from Ecclesiastes. Sir Hugh Orde read the poem If by Rudyard Kipling, saying: â€œIf there is a poem for British policing, this is it. I think Paul would approve.”
Fed Chair ‘Was One Of Britain’s Finest Officers’