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Honour for police officers killed on duty ‘means so much’, fathers say

An award for public servants killed in the line of duty is recognition that “means so much”, the fathers of two murdered police officers have said after they successfully campaigned for the honour.

Bryn Hughes and Paul Bone called for medals to be awarded to emergency workers killed in the line of duty following the deaths of their daughters Pcs Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone, who were murdered by Dale Cregan in Greater Manchester in 2012.

On Saturday, it was announced the Elizabeth Emblem would be awarded to the next of kin of police officers, firefighters and other public servants.

The honour is the civilian equivalent of the Elizabeth Cross, which recognises members of the UK armed forces who died in action or as a result of a terrorist attack.

Mr Hughes, 60, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, said it was something that had been “missed off the radar” previously.

He said: “It’s been nearly three years campaigning for me and for it finally to be announced, I think in one respect it’s humbling but overwhelming.

“I’m so pleased for everybody, not just the police officers, as well, we’ve found out it’s for everybody in public service and that will mean a lot for those families, I think.

“We’ve got recognition, local recognition and charitable recognition with the memorial on the Mall, but to finally have something from the state, from the Government, that means so much.”

Mr Bone, 75, from Pool in Wharfedale, West Yorkshire, said: “I’m very pleased for all the police that have lost their lives in service that they’re now getting recognition by the state and for all the families involved it will be a privilege to get them.”

Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes
Fiona Bone, left, and Nicola Hughes (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

He added: “It’s for the community who have given their families to service for the community.”

Families will be able to apply for the emblem via gov.uk from Saturday, with nominations then reviewed by the George Cross Committee before recommendations are made to the King via the Prime Minister.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said: “We will not forget those who died in our service.

“The Elizabeth Emblem will bring the nation together to honour the dedication and commitment of these exceptional public servants who have given their lives in service of the United Kingdom.”

The design of the emblem includes a rosemary wreath, a traditional symbol of remembrance, surrounding a Tudor Crown and the inscription “For A Life Given In Service”.

Mr Bone said it would be difficult to decide when to wear the emblem.

“It’ll be nice to have and hold and occasionally it’ll get worn,” he said.

Mr Hughes added: “I think just by having it, just by knowing it’s there, that means a great deal.”

Policing minister Chris Philp said: “We owe so much to our public servants who make sacrifices every day to keep us safe.

“The Elizabeth Emblem will recognise those who tragically lost their lives in public service and rightly enshrine them in our country’s history so that their sacrifices are never forgotten.”

Mr Hughes said he thought the memories of his daughter and her colleague would always be kept alive.

Ms Hughes, 23, and Ms Bone, 32, died in a gun and grenade attack while responding to a 999 call in Hattersley, Greater Manchester.

Mr Hughes said: “I think that lasting legacy for what happened to them that day will always be in people’s minds but I think now this emblem is in place it will be even better.”