PC Andrew Harper remembered as 'exceptional man' at emotional funeral

14 October 2019, 00:01

PC Andrew Harper has been laid to rest
PC Andrew Harper has been laid to rest. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Hundreds of mourners have lined the street for the funeral of PC Andrew Harper who died while responding to reports of a burglary.

The 28-year-old newlywed, from Thames Valley Police, was killed on August 15 near the village of Sulhamstead in Berkshire.

He died from multiple injuries after being dragged under a van.

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.

PC Harper died after being dragged under a car on 15 August
PC Harper died after being dragged under a car on 15 August. Picture: Thames Valley Police

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.

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.

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.

Mourners line the streets for PC Harper's private funeral
Mourners line the streets for PC Harper's private funeral. Picture: PA
His coffin was draped with the police crest
His coffin was draped with the police crest. Picture: PA

"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.

He had only been married for four weeks at the time of his death
He had only been married for four weeks at the time of his death. Picture: PA

Craig O'Leary, chairman of Thames Valley Police Federation, said PC Harper was a "hero", who was loved by his family, friends and colleagues.

In a statement, Mr O'Leary said: "PC Andrew Harper loved being a police officer. It is our sad duty today to pay our last respects to him and support his wife Lissie, his family and his friends at his funeral.

This has really hit us all hard and shocked everyone in the whole police service."

Police have warned of some disruption in the city due to road closures between 8am and 12.30pm for the funeral procession.

St Aldate's will be closed from the city centre to its junction with Speedwell Street.

There will also be road closures on The Plain, Magdalen Bridge and High Street, police said.

PC Harper's family has asked for any donations to be made to the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital on Aston Road, Haddenham, or the Blue Cross re-homing centre on London Road, Lewknor.

His colleagues pictured at the scene in August
His colleagues pictured at the scene in August. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, thousands of people have signed up to take part in a "ride of respect" in PC Harper's memory on October 27.

The motorcycle event is due to set off from RAF Benson to Abingdon Airfield in Oxfordshire.

Organiser Sian Sloper, from Caversham, said 2,240 people had registered to take part so far.

PC Harper had been married to his partner Lissie for just four weeks when he died.

She described him as "the kindest, loveliest, most selfless" person.

Henry Long, 18, from Mortimer in Reading, and two 17-year-old boys, who cannot be named because of their age, have been charged with murder and conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

Thomas King, 21, from Basingstoke, is also accused of conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

Jed Foster, 20, was also accused of PC Harper's murder, but prosecutors dropped the charges against him as there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.