Hundreds gather at service to remember life of blinded Pc David Rathband
PUBLISHED March 10, 2012
Up to 800 people filled St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle in a ceremony which brought the city centre to a standstill at noon.
His identical twin Darren, who organised the service as a celebration of Pc Rathband's life, wept as he placed a hand on the coffin, which was draped in a union flag, covered with lilies and his police cap.
The officer's children Mia, 13, and Ashley, 19, were seated at the front of the historic church, however his estranged wife Kath was not in attendance as she has chosen instead to attend his funeral next week in Stafford.
Before making its way to the church, the hearse stopped at Etal Lane police station, on the outskirts of Newcastle, where Pc Rathband was based, before his brother Darren - also a policeman - will clock him off the shift he always intended to complete.
PC Rathband's coffin was then brought into the cathedral by paramedic Philip Molloy and ambulance technician Stephen Martin, who treated him after he was shot.
Also carrying his coffin were colleagues Sgt Steve Winn and PC Steven Marsh, as well as Peter and Andrew Nelson from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
Orange flowers down the side of the vehicle spelt out Pc Rathband's call sign - Tango 190.
The traffic officer was shot while sitting unarmed in his patrol car on July 4 2010 by gunman Raoul Moat.
Pc Rathband was found hanged at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, on February 29.
The father-of-two was believed to be devastated by the collapse of his marriage to Kath, was in continual pain from his injuries and struggled with being blind.
Mrs Rathband has said she will not attend the service but will be at the funeral in his native Stafford next Saturday and at a memorial service organised by Northumbria Police at the same cathedral on March 19.
In a heartbreaking speech at the end of the ceremony, Darren Rathband said: "I have lost half of me. You don't get over it, you just get through it.
"Every day grief puts on a new face.
"My brother said to me 'you're a good brother', I say to my brother 'you're a great brother'. "It is time to take my brother home."
The service was conducted by the Dean of Newcastle, the Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, who hoped the service will help heal those hurt by the tragedy.
He said: "The memorial service will include a tribute to David led by humanist Carly Fee although as one would expect in an Anglican cathedral the service will include prayers that bear witness to the Christian hope.
"We hope the service will enable people of every faith and none to come together to honour David's memory.
"This is a celebration of David's life, his bravery and his service to the community.
"However the cost he and others have had to pay remind us forcibly of the destructive powers at work in our society, the need for constant vigilance and the debt we owe, not only to David but to all his colleagues in the Northumbria Police force who day by day, week and week and year by year put their lives on the line to keep us safe.
"We hope that this service will begin the process of bringing healing and reconciliation to those who have been caught up in this tragic situation."
After being shot, he set up Pc David Rathband's Blue Lamp Foundation which helps 999 personnel who have been injured at work by a criminal act.
Darren Rathband asked emergency services workers to come to the service dressed in their uniform.