Q and A with COPS president elect Denis Gunn

Posted on January 6, 2014 | Category :Uncategorized | No Comments

Denis Gunn

HOW has Care of Police Survivors helped the new president elect? What does he remember about his first Survivors’ Weekend? What will be his main aims as COPS president?

Denis Gunn, the father of PC Richard Gunn, has been appointed president-elect of the charity Care of Police Survivors.

Here, he reveals in COPS’ December/Christmas newsletter why the charity is so important to him.

How has COPS helped you?
COPS has helped me enormously in the same way it has benefited most, if not all, survivors. Although it is hard to explain why, it is just so good talking to others who have suffered the same sort of family bereavement that I experienced. It really has helped me cope with the loss of my elder son Richard and it is only with other survivors that I can talk openly about him. COPS also helps survivors maintain that important link to the police family as a whole. COPS strap-lines include “survivors helping survivors” and “rebuilding shattered lives” and that is exactly what the charity does.

What do you remember about your first Survivors’ Weekend?
I remember some parts very clearly. It was July 2004, just four months after Richard was killed on duty with Surrey Police. I was still in shock and I remember little of the memorial service other than my son’s name being read from the roll of remembrance. I do, however, recall the Friday evening when there were so few of us that we could eat together in a Chinese restaurant. I also remember Saturday evening’s meal when my family and I sat with Vicky Palmer and her two boys and Julie Townsend. The Sunday afternoon, after the service, was quite different to how it is now. We sat in a field talking to Audrey and Andrew Barton, while the children there played on a bouncy castle and we got our tea from a mobile unit parked nearby. The survivors I named here helped us enormously and I’m happy to say they are still close friends today

What did you do as a COPS volunteer and trustee?
I became a volunteer back in 2005 and joined the committee helping to organise each annual Survivors’ Weekend. When I became a trustee in March 2010 I was given the role of survivor representative, a position I am very happy to hold as I am keen to ensure COPS provides the support survivors require. I also established the newcomers meeting held on the Friday evening of the Survivors’ Weekend and for the last three years I’ve organised the Parents’ Weekends in Cambridge, Blackpool and Lincoln. With great support from COPS volunteer PC Ian Kyle and Deputy Chief Constable Craig Denholm, I also helped establish a COPS team within Surrey Police, which meets regularly throughout the year.

What is your background?
I retired from work after Richard was killed but I spent my working life in IT. Despite my background, I now struggle to keep up with the latest technology and would quite easily be put to shame by a knowledgeable 10-year-old child.

What do you get up to when you’re not helping with COPS?
I’m a big sports fan. I watch a lot of football and I’m a season-ticket holder at Brighton and Hove Albion. Prompted by losing my elder son I have, in recent years, researched my family tree and have managed to trace the family back to a fisherman who started life in Caithness, Scotland in the early 1700s. My wife Carol and I also love travelling.

Tell us three things your friends and colleagues at COPS might not know about you.
1. I was born in Brighton, where my mother was a police officer and my father was a professional footballer. He played for Brighton, having started his career with Cardiff City.
2. I lived and worked in the USA for close to six years and Richard was born in Boston, Massachusetts.
3. When my younger son, James, was a cub-scout in Chelmsford, Essex he attended a pack led by fellow survivor and COPS event co-ordinator Sue Bishop.

What will be your main aims as COPS president?
I’ll be happy if I can match the excellent work performed by former presidents Christine Fulton and Sue Brace. I’m very keen to continue raising the charity’s profile and strengthen the relationship COPS has with other police and victim support charities. But above all I really do want to ensure the charity listens to survivors to provide exactly what they need, if it doesn’t already do so.

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