Looking ahead to a Christmas that’s going to look different this year
• Two of our new recruits are getting ready for their first Christmas Day shifts
• Meanwhile two of our colleagues remember Christmas Days of the past as they prepare to retire
• All four have experienced the challenges of CoVID-19 this year
Christmas is going to be different for all of us but four of our colleagues are going to find it stranger than most.
Student officers PC Stephen Heeley and PC Emily Cann will be working their first Christmas Day with the force.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Richard Agar, based most recently in Solihull, and Sergeant Jason Newell, based in Coventry, will be clocking off for the last time as they retire.
During the year, all four have experienced the challenges of CoVID-19 and as we head towards the end of the year, they have been reflecting on 2020 and sharing their thoughts on the festive period.
Stephen joined us in July 2019 after deciding to take a change from a sales-motivated private sector job in the aerospace industry. He wanted a job that would help him make a difference and has enjoyed every minute of his career change so far. It’s one of the reasons that he volunteered to work on Christmas Day.
He said: “I really love Christmas and normally I’d have wanted to book it off and be home with my family in Sheffield.
“I normally try to catch up with family and old school friends. Lots of food and drink is standard. I feel a little sad that things won’t be the same this year and I’m already looking forward to Christmas 2021 when things might be back to normal.
“I don’t want to jinx anything but I assume it’ll not be as busy as normal and hopefully there’ll be a bit of Christmas spirit in the office. I hope that on Christmas Day people will be trying to enjoy their day at home so there won’t be too many out causing trouble.
“It’ll be the first time I haven’t been home for Christmas. My family are posting down some presents so I’ll open them in the evening when I get home from work.
“I’m happy to work on Christmas Day so that I’m not on my own. It has been a strange year so it feels like an appropriate way to finish it off.”
Emily joined us last October and is looking forward to her first Christmas with the force.
The 22-year-old said: “I’m absolutely loving the job, it’s everything I expected it to be. The whole experience so far has been a highlight and each day is different as you never know what you’re going to get called to. I have really enjoyed the more challenging jobs when we catch the offenders in action or raiding a location and discovering someone is growing a cannabis farm.
“I’m excited about working this Christmas as I’m intrigued to see what myself and other officers will be sent to.
“At Christmas each year, I usually spend it with my family but this year will be a whole new experience. I finish at 3pm so I’ll definitely be looking forward to Christmas dinner with my parents and partner afterwards. My parents don’t mind that I’m working this year because it’s part of the job and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do career wise.”
Richard started working for us in 1991 and has had various roles including detective, neighbourhood sergeant, inspector, CTU deputy head of investigations, DCI and Operations superintendent.
He said: “I’d say working on county lines has been my biggest achievement. Operation Clock Face has been my most memorable moment. A Ukranian student was jailed for at least 40 years for murdering an 82-year-old man and plotting explosions near mosques in racist attacks.
“I remember working New Year 2000, the year of the millennium. We were on edge the whole night, just hoping the clocks would all set to the right time and nothing big would kick-off. It all passed ok.
“When I worked my very first Christmas Day I didn’t realise we still got to have a Christmas dinner. It was 3am and was made by some of the longer serving officers, which was a really nice touch.
“Working Christmas this year will be different for colleagues. This time last year we’d never have thought something like CoVID-19 would’ve taken over like it has. It’s been hard to reassure not only each other but the public too. We’ve all felt isolated in one way or another and it’s been hard. Personally, not seeing my family, especially the grandkids, has been the hardest.
“But I think we’ll be just as busy as usual. People will inevitably be coming together and we’ll be making sure they stick to the legislation.
“Now I’m retiring, I’d like to get back into music, I’m a sax player. I was part of band with other police officers and a band before I joined the job. It’s something I can’t get away from. I really enjoy it. I’d also like to get another motorbike and travel the world when we’re able to.
“To anyone just starting on their police career I’d say just make a difference every day, see the best in people, be helpful and be friendly. The way we treat people leaves a lasting impression. Don’t forget why you joined the police and be human, things are what you make them.
“I will miss my police family, I have made some lifelong friends. There’s been times of horror and trauma but it has been spent with some of my best friends.”
Jason Newell joined us in 2006 after transferring from the Met and has been based at Coventry for the most of the time. He’s had roles in Response, Intelligence, Surveillance, Neighbourhood Policing, Custody and FCID.
He said: “Two moments stand out as memorable. One was being part of the police honour guard in 2002 at the Great Hall in Westminster when HM The Queen Mother was lying in state before her funeral. The other was taking part in the Olympics in 2012 and being part of the closing ceremony.
“Speaking of Christmas in particular, I remember a time when I was working on Response and I was called to a domestic incident. Both families involved were arguing outside on the lawn. I checked inside one of the houses and the dinner was on the table waiting to be eaten and the Queen’s Speech was beaming loudly on the TV. It was like the whole family had beamed themselves outside. It was most bizarre.
“My first Christmas Day with the force saw me attend a serious wounding incident in Coventry. It ended up being a hostage situation and we were there for 19 hours. My Christmas dinner that year was chicken and chips.
“This year will undoubtedly be different because of the pandemic. It’s left a mark on everyone in personal and professional capacities. We’re going to have to work in different ways to how we’ve done in the past. I didn’t think my last year of service would end this way.
“Retirement is an exciting time and I’m looking forward to the next chapter, whatever that’ll be. My wife has most certainly made plans for me! I’ll continue with my rugby refereeing and exploring my passion for photography some more.
“I’ve had an absolutely brilliant career with many highs. I’d advise colleagues just starting their careers to take charge of it and own it. We’re part of a community and the desire to help the public is at the core of what we do. Most of all enjoy it because it’ll go by in a flash.
“The friendships I have made, and the camaraderie, will always remain with me.”