This year’s Police Unity Tour is going to be even more poignant for the Dyfed Powys team, as they prepare to wear black armbands in memory of their colleague Gareth Earp.
More than 50 serving and retired officers and staff from across all four forces in Wales, 15 of which are representing Dyfed Powys, will be cycling almost 200 miles this weekend to raise money for the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) charity.
Dyfed Powys Police Federation member Sarah Evans who has helped organise this year’s Welsh chapter says the event will be ‘especially poignant as Inspector Gareth Earp and his family will be at the forefront of the rider’s thoughts and memories, after 43-year-old died in a car accident on 28 June.
“Starting the Welsh chapter in Aberystwyth for the first time this year and riding through Ceredigion and Powys will be very special as Gareth served the majority of his police service within these divisions. Riders will hold a moment of silence outside Aberystwyth police station at approximately 7.45am, where Gareth served as an Inspector for several years,” said Dyfed Powys sergeant Sarah.
On Friday (28 July), the first day of the event, the team will each be wearing a black armband, which will have the Dyfed Powys police crest, a thin blue line and Gareth’s collar number - 1079 - in honour of the husband and father-of-three, on.
Around 35 miles into the route, when the team reach Rhayader, which is where Gareth and his family lived, his wife and three children are planning on meeting the riders.
“The loss of Gareth has left behind a massive gap in the community, Dyfed Powys Police and the wider policing family. This was evident by the tributes offered and testament to his character,” continued mother-of-two Sarah, who will be taking part in the Police Unity Tour for the sixth time this year.
“The event is always a challenge and this year, it’s going to be made tougher thanks to the rolling Mid Wales hills before we reach the Shropshire border.”
All riders will be wearing a blue wristband in memory of a fallen officer which they then present to the surviving families on the second day at Drayton Manor Park.
Sarah is once again riding for 37-year-old Detective Constable Roger Meyrick, who was killed, along with two other officers, in a traffic collision while on surveillance training in 1990.
Sarah Evans (left) with sergeant and fellow team member, Emily Davies.
Sarah, 42, continued: “Meeting the families at Drayton Manor Park is such a special and moving moment for us all and a reminder of why we raise money for this special charity.
“When you start feeling that you’ve had enough of being in the saddle for hours, your body starts to ache and cramp sets in and you question yourself as to ‘why am I putting myself through this’, all you have to do is look down at your wrist, see the blue band and you remember why you are riding - that blue band and knowing how much it means to the surviving families you are riding for and they are waiting to see you, is what keeps you motivated and spurs you on.
“For me, if I didn’t return home from a shift to my family, who would be there to support them? COPS offers so many wonderful things, from counselling and peer support to days out and respite breaks.
“Every year at the National Arboretum service, we listen to survivors sharing their memories around the tragic events where they lost their loved ones and how the charity supported them in rebuilding their lives.
“I see COPS as this incredible extra family that wraps themselves around the partner, children and loved ones of our fallen colleagues.”
Sarah explained that knowing COPS exists, brings her an element of ‘comfort’ that the support will be there for her family if anything were to happen.
“And one of the best parts about the Police Unity Tour is that we’re all one, big cycling family. It doesn’t matter what rank or position you are or what force you are from, we are all riding for the same purpose,” said Sarah, who admits she has ‘put in’ 600 more miles worth of training this year, compared to last.
“I remember during the briefing of my first Unity Tour, former Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Matt Dukes said to the chapter, ‘there is no rank in lycra’ and that has always stayed with me.
“We can’t forget the supporting crew too in doing a fantastic job in keeping us safe on the roads. As well as the Police Federation, Sports Recreation Association and the Police Crime Commissioner, plus so many of our colleagues, families and friends have really got behind us. We are very grateful for everyone who has sponsored us.”
The Dyfed Powys team are hoping to raise between £3,500 and £4,000. You can still donate to them by visiting their JustGiving page.
This year's Police Unity Tour will begin on Friday (28) and end at the National Memorial Arboretum on Sunday (30).
READ MORE: Inspector Gareth Earp's funeral