Belfast Telegraph

Grieving parents of police officer Philippa Reynolds pay special tribute at art project

By Donna Deeney

The parents of a young policewoman killed by a hit-and-run driver say they will never get over the pain of losing her.

Philippa Reynolds (27) was on routine patrol as the back-seat passenger in an unmarked car when it was hit by a stolen 4x4 in Londonderry in February, 2013.

Two men were later jailed over her death.

Shane Christopher Frane (26), who was driving the stolen car, will serve at least six years for manslaughter.

Conor Clarence (24), a passenger in the stolen car, will serve 21 months in prison in relation to other offences. He will serve a further 21 months on licence.

Frane was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.

Philippa's parents Dorothy and Mervyn Reynolds made an emotional visit to the Temple art project in Londonderry yesterday, where they left a token to their beloved daughter.

They said the pain of her loss was every bit as keen today as the day she died.

Accompanied by PSNI Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan, who was Philippa's commanding officer at the time of her death, Mr and Mrs Reynolds came to the Temple and spent time inside the huge structure, reading the messages left by the thousands of others before placing their own piece of crafted wood in memory of their daughter.

The plaque, which had been made at the request of police in Derry, bore the PSNI emblem with Philippa's face and name etched above the message which simply read, "daughter, friend, colleague".

With tears streaming down his face, Philippa's father said he didn't think they would ever get over the pain of their loss. He said coming to Derry to leave the token in memory of Philippa was another stepping stone in helping them with their grief.

Mr Reynolds said: "We came here to leave this plaque which has been prepared by the PSNI, which is so lovely, it is actually a pity it has to go up in smoke, but it is apt because it is about letting go of things dear to you.

"Philippa was such a smiley person, she was a daddy's girl as well and there were plenty of occasions when daddy got called on to please help and every day we think about her and she will forever be in our hearts.

"It is another hurdle in our lives, how long it will take to get over the tragedy, if ever, I don't know.

"We are here today for this and it is a stepping stone on our way to recovery and we are sharing it with other people who came here with different feelings about different things.

"Unfortunately we will not be able to be here for the actual burning of the Temple, because we are off to an event organised by a group called Care of Police Survivors to meet with other parents of other fallen police officers from across the UK.

"Ours is the loss of our daughter who was just a policewoman finishing her two years and she had a lot of potential that was taken away from her, but we have such cherished memories of her."

Among the thousands of messages left by others who have been drawn to artist David Best's Temple, Mr and Mrs Reynolds placed the plaque in remembrance of their daughter and stood in quiet reflection looking over the city she served as a police officer until she died.

The district commander of Foyle, Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan, who had suggested the visit to the Temple to Mr and Mrs Reynolds and who accompanied them, was also moved to tears.

He said: "Around the time of the anniversary of Philippa's death it occurred to me, as it was also the time that I had been working with David Best about managing this art project,

"I thought that this would be a very fitting and appropriate way to remember Philippa.

"I suggested the idea to Mervyn and Dorothy and they were keen, so we organised the plaque and the visit which allows us to remember and commemorate everything that Philippa was, not just the police officer but the person behind the uniform too and the etching on the plaque did that perfectly."

Background

Popular officer Philippa Reynolds was just 27 when she died in a crash with a stolen four-wheel drive in February, 2013. She was a rear-seat passenger on routine patrol in Londonderry when the crash happened. The PSNI believes she was killed instantly. The stolen vehicle sped away from the scene but two men were later arrested, charged and jailed. Her parents were on holiday when they were told the news. Speaking afterwards, they said the good wishes of others helped them deal with their grief.

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