Alwyn attends annual police memorial event

Alywn Baird (far right) with HRH The Prince of Wales,  Dawn Strain, from Banbridge, and Judith Greenaway (left).
Alywn Baird (far right) with HRH The Prince of Wales, Dawn Strain, from Banbridge, and Judith Greenaway (left).

A Scarva woman says she was delighted to meet The Prince of Wales at the National Police Memorial Day event in Belfast.

Alwyn Baird’s late husband Constable Allen Baird, 28, died alongside three colleagues when a 200lb van bomb exploded on the Millvale Road, Bessbrook, in 1979. He left a widow and two children, Gordon and Judith, then aged seven and three.

Alwyn attended the service on Sunday with her daughter.

Sgt Joe Holness, founder of the commemoration, invited Alwyn to meet the Prince, who paid tribute to the bravery of police officers who have died in the line of duty in Northern Ireland.

Alwyn who attended the inaugural service at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2004 said: “Joe told me to keep it a secret - it was very unexpected.”

“I was sitting behind Prince Charles and then myself and different families were taken to a V.I.P. area where we got to meet him. He took his time to chat with us and wasn’t in a hurry to get away,” she explained.

Talking about the service Alwyn, who has four grandchildren, described it as “beautiful”.

“It was very moving and emotional and my daughter was with me for the first time.

“It was a beautiful service and very emotional when the green and blue petals fell and the Last Post was played,” she said.

During the service Prince Charles noted the “enormous sacrifices” made by officers.

A total of 303 officers died there in the line of duty between 1966 and 1998.

Home Secretary Theresa May also attended the event at the Waterfront Hall.

The prince told the annual remembrance event, which is held in a different venue each year: “We are drawn together from across the UK to demonstrate our deep respect for these brave men and women. They will never be forgotten and through us, their exceptional legacy will always be remembered.”

He added: “We owe them an immense debt of gratitude.”

Sgt Holness, said it was a special day to remember those that have died.

“It is a day that is as profound now as it was 11 years ago when this event first started,” he said.

“It brings together police forces, officers, colleagues, friends and family from across the country to remember and give recognition to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting us.”

The event was inaugurated by Sgt Holness after his colleague was killed on duty.