Wife of Pc Andrew Harper pays tribute to killed officer at funeral
Hundreds of police officers attended a private service in Oxford on Monday morning.
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Pc Andrew Harper as his wife paid tribute to a “gentle giant with a heart of gold” at a private service.
The 28-year-old Thames Valley Police officer was killed on August 15 while responding to a burglary four weeks after his wedding.
On Monday Pc Harper’s widow Lissie, as well as his parents Phil and Debbie and brother Sean, were among 800 mourners who attended a private funeral at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.
The service was also attended by uniformed police officers from Pc Harper’s force and neighbouring units, as well as members of other emergency services and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
At the service broadcast to a second overspill church, Mrs Harper remembered her husband as the “kindest of kind and sweetest of sweet”.
She told the congregation: “Although Andrew was strong he was also unfailingly kind, a gentle giant with a heart of gold.
“To me, Andrew was everything. My breakfast buddy, my dancing partner, the love of my life.”
Mrs Harper said their 13-year relationship began as “true childhood sweethearts”.
She continued: “You used to tell me we were a team and that we would get through all of life’s hurdles together, how I wish you were here with me now. The hardest challenge of all is losing you.
“My lovely boy, I miss you more and more as the days pass into weeks, my love will never fade and the sound of your laugh will stay with me.”
The service began with a short procession through the city, led by mounted officers of Thames Valley Police and watched by crowds who gathered outside the church to pay their respects.
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 force’s crest on the sides.
Mrs Harper was presented with her late husband’s white ceremonial police hat which she placed on his coffin for the duration of the service.
In addition to prayers from Thames Valley Police lead chaplain Rev Helen Arnold, a colleague from the Roads Policing Unit Pc Jordan Johnstone paid tribute to the fallen officer.
Talking about Pc Harper’s “infectious” smile and his hobbit-like eating habits, Pc Johnstone said: “Your personality shone through throughout and I’m so very very proud of you.
“I’m privileged to have worked with you and even more so to call you my friend.”
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. Mrs Harper placed their wedding ring boxes.
The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Martyn Percy, gave the address marking “an exceptional man”, prior to the final blessing by the Bishop of Oxford.
Dr Percy 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.
“Some might say he was an ordinary man doing an ordinary job. I disagree. He represented policing at its best. He was everything you wanted in a police officer.”
A private committal and wake for the close members of Pc Harper’s family followed the funeral.
Across the Thames Valley region including Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire flags were flown at half-mast to commemorate the service.
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