Our Honour Guard volunteers feel privileged to pay respects
A 24-strong group of West Midlands Police volunteers have been stepping up to represent the force at national ceremonies and events for the last five years.
The West Midlands Police Honour Guard was formed after Sergeant Ben Westwood visited the USA for Police Week in 2015. During the visit, he saw Honour Guards in action and was determined to set up a similar team to represent WMP. He worked with former Chief Constable Chris Sims and the group officially launched in 2016.
Since their inception, the Honour Guard have attended high profile events such as the funeral of PC Keith Palmer in London, Remembrance Day in London, National Police Memorial Day both on the mainland in Northern Ireland as well as the Care of Police Survivors Weekend.
More locally, and the main part of their work is attending funerals and memorials of serving and former WMP officers and staff.
Their role has been more important than ever since the CoVID-19 pandemic led to restrictions on the number of people allowed at funerals.
Sgt Ben Westwood , Head of the Guard, says that being part of the services and sharing the personal moments with bereaved families has been a huge privilege for the team.
“Our dedications take place outside so we’ve very fortunate to have had the support of the councils across our force area who have allowed us to attend funerals when others have had to stay away due to restrictions.
“As colleagues haven’t been able to pay respects in person during the past 14 months, we’ve felt very honoured to be able to attend and represent the force. It means a lot to the families that we’re there.
“Once things get back to normal we’re looking forward to all meeting again and getting in some practice for future events."
The team of 24 that make up the Honour Guard come from a varied background, which includes those with no experience at all to ex-Guardsmen from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Before CoVID-19 they took part in about 20 events each year and can provide standard bearing /colour party, pall bearing, slow marching, Guard of Honour and even bugling.