PC Andrew Harper's widow says 'I miss you more and more' in moving tribute

14 October 2019, 11:52 | Updated: 14 October 2019, 17:56

The widow of a police officer who died on duty says she misses him "more and more as the days pass into weeks" as hundreds turned out for his funeral.

PC Andrew Harper, 28, from Thames Valley Police, was killed on 15 August near the village of Sulhamstead in Berkshire.

The newlywed died from multiple injuries after being dragged under a van.

Hundreds of people came to watch the officer's coffin arriving at Christ Church cathedral in Oxford this morning.

Uniformed officers lined the streets of the city along the route of the procession, which was led by mounted officers from Thames Valley Police.

PC Harper's coffin was draped in a navy flag featuring a police crest.

His widow, Lissie Harper, who had been married to him for just four weeks when he died, gave a moving tribute, in which she described his love of the outdoors, movies and beaches, and called him her "hero".

She said her husband was a "gentle giant with a heart of gold" and wore his police uniform with pride.

Read Mrs Harper's full tribute at the bottom of this story.

Thames Valley Police lead chaplain Reverend Helen Arnold opened the service which was attended by officers from his force and neighbouring units.

PC Harper's family laid symbols of his life in front of a large photo of him. Items included a Mr Men mug, a box of eggs and a jar of Nutella.

His love of food was also referenced by his roads policing colleague Jordan Johnstone, who told of his brightly coloured and organised tupperware, and his ability to carry several snacks in his stab vest.

PC Johnstone said: "So… how will we remember you? I asked a few of our colleagues on their thoughts of where this paragraph might go. One of the most consistent topics was his love of food. Like a hobbit his day revolved around the seven meals required to keep those massive feet moving.

"Your smile was infectious and your humour relentless. Even in the darkest of times you made me laugh. Your personality shone through in everything you did and I'm so very, very proud of you."

During the service, songs by Shirley Bassey and Russell Watson were played as well as performances from the cathedral choir.

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.

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

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

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

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.

Lissie Harper's tribute in full

Today I would like to remember and honour the kind brave and lovely man we all know. We are all here just for you.

Andrew.

From the ever sweet, lanky, red faced boy passing me notes in class, to the strong and loyal man you grew to be. I have always known how special you are. We often talked about how lucky we were to have found and kept each other, true childhood sweethearts, loving one another more and more with each passing day. Not a day went past that we didn't say I love you.

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.

We managed to pack so many amazing memories into the last 13 years, travelling the world, buying a house and getting married. You had a contagious love for life, filling each day with laughter and appreciating all the little things.

You have always been a protector. Whether in your role of big brother, fierce friend, loving husband or keeper of peace among the public, keeping everyone safe was your priority, not only in your job but your family too. Everything was always okay when you were around.

Although Andrew was strong he was also unfailingly kind, a gentle giant with a heart of gold. He wore his uniform with pride and vowed to challenge the bad and celebrate the good.

He loved to be part of a team and had a work ethic to admire. Looking around me today I know that he was classed so very highly among his peers, known for being proactive, kind and fair.

Aside from the police however, Andrew treasured his family above all else, a country boy who loved the outdoors, picnics, bbqs and walking. We took many trips to Cornwall and Andrew was so at peace there, walking on the beach, Cornish pasties and fish and chips, it all made him so happy. This in fact was the last trip we took together after our wedding. I didn't realise at the time how precious those memories would become.

To many of you Andrew was a lovely little part of your lives or even just someone who was always there on the periphery of life. However to me Andrew was everything, my breakfast buddy, my dancing partner, the love of my life. He could fix anything and kept everything, pen lids, Tupperware, countless keys with no home, screws, holey socks and broken bits to glue back together. He was an adventurer, food lover, board game competitor, he miss-pronounced words and always fell asleep during film nights. He loved nights in and laying by the fire, or finding a new road to wander and discover.

He was always ready for the next adventure, never one to be deterred by anything, a positive force of nature. I will treasure every moment we had together from, sky-diving, bungee jumping, mountain climbing and white water rafting, to walking on beaches, collecting sea glass, cheeky takeaways and lazy mornings. We should have had so many more of these days together, for you Andrew above all deserved a lifetime of happiness.

Andrew was so many things to many of us, husband, best friend, brother, son, uncle, nephew and colleague. The kindest of kind and sweetest of sweet

He could cheer me up when I was down just by pulling a silly face or making a joke. I could never stay mad at him for long because he made me laugh in the middle of an argument. Oh how I hated that.

I've never known anyone so kind, worry free, forgiving, positive and good as our Andrew.

An animal rescuer, he could often be found laying on a rug with the family dog and even taking many creatures to Tiggywinkles Animal Rescue. If there was an animal in need you always seemed to come across it, hedgehogs, deer and even birds had been known to take a trip in the car with Andrew. A true friend to all.

If there's one thing Andrew taught me it was to not sweat the small stuff and to treasure each day as if it is a gift. Every time I feel down and without hope I can hear his kind words in my ear telling me to keep going, Find laughter, seek happiness. Forever more I will live each day for you Andrew, every moment of joy, peace, and love I promise to think of my husband and feel lucky to have known him as much as I did, more than anyone. He was my hero and his spirit will live on in my memories forever.

My lovely boy, I miss you more and more as the days pass into weeks, my love for you will never fade, the sound of your laugh will stay with me. Your beautiful smile and warm embrace will fill my dreams and comfort me as you always have.

A good friend said to me recently that they will never again complain about growing older, every year on this planet is a privilege, every grey hair a blessing, as not all of us will have the honour of getting old. More than anything I wish that my most favourite person had not been taken so early, so cruelly, so unexpectedly. "I wish" is a thought that no one should have to think! We should all get the chance to reach the true end of our lives, so for Andrew I only hope that we will live every day, every moment, as if it is our last. No more "I wish", only "I'm glad".

If everyone on this earth had just an ounce of the kindness and generosity that Andrew had, I know that it would be a better place.

Andrew loved movies. We spent many nights in together with our favourite films and snacks. So I tried to find something appropriate to say from one of his favourites. Unfortunately Andrew, the Matrix or Dumb and Dumber didn't quite seem the right fit for this beautiful place, but perhaps this one will.

Stop all the Clocks by W H Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crépe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.