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Hundreds turn out for killed Pc Andrew Harper’s funeral

The service was preceded by a procession through Oxford.

Members of the public line the High Street in Oxford to pay their respects (Aaron Chown/PA)
Members of the public line the High Street in Oxford to pay their respects (Aaron Chown/PA)

By Jess Glass, PA

Tributes have been paid at the funeral of the “treasured” Pc Andrew Harper after he was killed while responding to a burglary.

Pc Harper’s wife Lissie and his brother Sean were among 800 mourners who attended a private funeral at Christ Church cathedral in Oxford on Monday.

The service was preceded by a procession through the city, led by mounted officers of Thames Valley Police and watched by members of the public gathered outside the church.

As the service began, Pc Harper’s coffin was placed in the centre of the large cathedral, covered in a navy blue flag with the police crest on the sides.

After the coffin was carried in by six uniformed officers, Mrs Harper placed her late husband’s ceremonial police hat on his coffin for the duration of the service.

Thames Valley Police lead chaplain Reverend Helen Arnold opened the service, attended by officers from Pc Harper’s force and neighbouring units.

Members of other emergency services also paid their respects at the service which was broadcast to a second overspill church.

After Mrs Harper paid an emotional tribute to her late husband, songs by Shirley Bassey and Russell Watson were played during the service, in addition to performances from the cathedral’s choir.

Members of Pc Harper’s family laid symbols of his life in front of a large photo of him as part of the service, including a Mr Men mug, a box of eggs and a jar of Nutella.

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The funeral cortege passes through the streets of Oxford (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Dean of Christ Church cathedral, the Very Reverend Professor Martyn Percy, commemorated a “kind, brave, strong and loyal man”.

He said: “Some might say he was an ordinary man with an ordinary job. I do not agree.

“He represented policing at its best. He was everything you wanted in a police officer. Authentic, brave, genuine, and kind.”

The dean referenced the outpouring of tributes for Pc Harper including the flags flown at half mast across the Thames Valley area on Monday, in addition to other memorials including a bike ride in his honour.

He continued: “Such tributes are treasure for a treasured man but they do not take away the pain of our grief and the pain of our loss.

“Today we mourn an exceptional man who died in the line of duty and even as we do we give thanks to each and every one here and watching.

“They selflessly serve our society, the thin blue line which runs through our community.

“They continue to inspire us just as Andrew does.”

The hour-long service was blessed by the Bishop of Oxford Steven Croft and was followed by a wake attended by Pc Harper’s close family.

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Members of the public line Saint Aldate’s in Oxford (Aaron Chown/PA)

Monday’s memorial was attended by Pc Harper’s parents Phil and Debbie, his brother Sean as well as Mrs Harper and his extended family.

Home Secretary Priti Patel also attended the service.

The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral addressed the congregation and said: “Andrew’s completely unexpected, sudden and tragic death reminds us of the routine risks that police officers take each day.

“No-one ever anticipates an ordinary call-out ending in such tragedy.”

Dr Percy added: “Perhaps through the TV series, we are pretty familiar with ‘the thin blue line’. Traditionally, it refers to our police, who stand between law and order, and social and civil anarchy; between chaos and order; or between criminals and the potential victims of crime.

“Yet this same line does not cut through our society; it does not divide us. Rather, we cherish our thin blue line because it surrounds us all and is woven amongst us, giving us that important sense of safekeeping.

“Today we remember and give thanks for Pc Andrew Harper: Part of that thin blue line that holds and binds our communities together. And one, that though strained and tested in times of tragedy like this, remains unbroken. And now stretches yet to Andrew, whom we still cherish, yet see no longer.”

PA

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