Belfast Telegraph

Philippa Reynolds is remembered with 'tears, song and laughter' in city she served as an officer

by DONNA DEENEY

Philippa Reynolds has been remembered with tears, laughter, song and prayer as a remarkable young woman who was a force for good in the city where she served as a young police officer.

The popular 27-year-old died on duty after a stolen vehicle ploughed into the police car she was travelling in at Dales Corner in the Waterside area of Londonderry in February.

Yesterday at a special service held in First Derry Presbyterian Church, Philippa's parents, Mervyn and Dorothy, sisters Nicola and Debra, boyfriend Niall and her colleagues from the PSNI were joined by people from both sides of the community she served to remember her.

Two of Philippa's closest friends, Sarah Wilson and Lyndsay Gittins, gave a touching eulogy where they each recalled how their friendships with Philippa began and endured over the years through school, college and work.

Struggling with their emotions the girls both drew tears from many of those who sat in the packed church listening quietly as they each recalled how much they loved and missed their friend.

Sarah recalled the childhood sleepovers which were almost always at Philippa's house because "she would be homesick by the time we got to the bottom of the lane".

She brought smiles to faces of those who knew her best but tears fell when she added: "I am sorry I teased you about your small feet and gave you a hard time because you drank blue WKD.

"I'm sorry we won't be together again.

"I'm sorry you were in the car that night and I wish I had told you how much I admired you."

A photographic montage of Philippa's life from when she was a baby compiled by her two sisters told the story of a life that was clearly lived to the fullest and in almost every single picture her smiles shone through.

Ray McGrattan, one of her PSNI colleagues, spoke with the real fondness in which she was held by her division. He assured her parents that this "raggle taggle bunch of people" will never be the same without Philippa and that "not a day goes by that we don't think about her".

Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin summed up his thoughts on Philippa and the role she played serving the people of Derry.

He said: "Many have breathed easier because you have lived."

Reverend David Latimer brought the service to a poignant conclusion when he said: "The tsunami of support and sympathy that encircled this city in the hours, days and weeks following Philippa's death, together with a small mountain of mail from people of both traditions all over this island and beyond, suggest to me that in death Philippa Reynolds is contributing to a softening of attitudes towards the men and women who serve our city as officers in the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

The choir from the Long Tower Chapel led the congregation in singing hymns chosen by Philippa's family while Fr Michael Canny and Rev Brian Hasson read lessons from the gospel.

Among the congregation were Chief Constable Matt Baggott, Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin, Chief Inspector Jon Burrows as well as the Mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell, MPs Mark Durkan and Gregory Campbell, and Sinn Fein's Gearoid O hEara.

Background

Philippa Reynolds died in the early hours of February 9, 2013. She was on routine patrol with her colleagues passing through Dales Corner road junction in the Waterside area of Derry. A stolen Landcruiser off-road vehicle ran a red light at the junction and crashed into the police vehicle where Philippa was a back seat passenger. She died instantly.

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