In a break from leadership and well being I feel compelled to talk about 2136. For not only was he truly a leader of men, he was a friend to many, a trusted navigator to the senior management team and to my ever abiding privilege a friend of mine. He was also a shining example of what a leader should be.
2136 was a traffic sergeant. A lover of copious cups of tea. Always starting the morning with a cheery “Hello Sweet pea” 2136 would always welcome us into work with a cuppa. Often in the office before us. 2136 had a complete handle on what was going on in the sphere of road policing within our division. It is fair to say that 2136 was Mr Traffic and he held the respect of not only his team, but that of the divisional management team. His officers worked for him because they knew he could be trusted to lead them. They trully trusted him.
2136 was a fountain of knowledge and you could never catch him out with respects to road traffic law. Indeed, just as a son would go to his father, officers would often speak with 2136 to get guidance and an opinion. Rarely would 2136 be wrong.
And for many years that equilibrium maintained the status Quo. Then one day 2136 got cancer. He never complained. He continued to come into work until it got too much. Operation after operation, he still came in to work.
2136 died in 2014. A life taken too soon from a man too young. He counted amongst his police friends, traffic, neighbourhood policing, response and the senior management team.
I was fortunate enough to be one of those to be his pall bearers. A duty I was honoured to carry out with that of my colleagues yet hating every single moment. Proud yet grief stricken. Carrying his coffin into the church to a ” A nice cup of tea” Tears mixed with laughter. Missing his humour yet laughing at it at the same time.
It was very clear by the packed congregation that 2136 was and would be missed. A SMT officer gave the eulogy in a shaky voice, reflecting the loss of such a valued and loved officer.
And so I KNOW that 2136 goes to a better place and indeed he waits for not only his wife and family but for all his traffic officers under his command, not resting until they complete their end of tour.
Collar numbers are easily forgotten and too soon given out again. Well 2136 will not be forgotten. Because it is the number of a man. That man is Peter Beresford and I for one will ever miss him until once again we share a cup of tea together.