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Staffordshire PC Claire helps Light the Lakes

“It was the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced, but worth it for the sight of all those flares lighting up the sky.”

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Members of Staffordshire Police at the top of Ill Bell, with their flares at sunrise

PC Claire Bond has been reflecting on her part in Light the Lakes, an annual tribute to fallen police colleagues across the country, having walked up a fell in Cumbria to light a flare in their honour.

The walk up Ill Bell fell in the Lake Districtwas no small feat for PC Bond, who still suffers from issues with her legs three years after both were broken as she tried to stop a dangerous driver in Stafford, but she said it was an exhilarating experience.

“I’ve never walked that far before and I genuinely think I hit the wall about 10 to 15 minutes before we got to the top of the fell, but my husband came down and helped me up to the top, she said.

“It has to be one of the most exciting and exhilarating weekends I’ve had in a long time because of what it was and what we achieved as a team getting up there.”

Claire Bond with Penny Lancaster after the charity climb

PC Bond was part of Team Staffs, a group of Staffordshire Police officers, which worked to climb Ill Bell on Friday, June 18 and camped overnight, before getting up at sunrise on Saturday to light their flares.

She said she had lit her first flare in honour of PC Luke Van de Sande, who died in a motorbike crash and the second in honour of PC Andrew Harper, who died after being dragged by a car.

PC Bond said the sight when she saw the flares lit up was one she’ll never forget.

She said: “Just holding up the flares towards the sky was just an awesome feeling and what made it better was looking over to see all the other flares lighting up.

Members of Staffordshire Police before climbing Ill Bell

“I’d done mine for Luke as I’d met his mum and told her I would do that for him, and for Andrew as it resonated with me due to how similar what happened to him was to what happened to me.

“We watched the flares light up and then watched the sunrise with a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate before we began walking down, which was the hardest part, but I got there in the end.”

The weekend also delivered a celebrity moment for PC Bond as she found herself face to face with model and TV personality Penny Lancaster, who is serving as a special constable volunteer police officer in London and had travelled up to take part in the event.

She said: “I came up with the most intelligent line, saying how tall she was, but she is very tall and very pretty, so she took it in her stride.

“I asked her how she was getting on with her special constable work and she told me she’d finished at 3am on Friday morning and driven straight up to do the walk.

“It was lovely to meet her and it was wonderful to meet Lissie Harper, who was warm and lovely and that was one of the most heartfelt parts of the weekend.”

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