Supporting our Emergency Services Heroes

featured

PC David Rathband knew first-hand what it was like to be injured in the line of duty and also what little emergency financial help and support was available to those in his shoes and their families.

Born in Stafford in 1968 David Rathband, trained as a plumber, but his lifelong ambition was to become a police officer.

After working as a Special Constable for some years, he finally realised that dream when he got a job as a constable with Northumbria Police in 2000. He passed his Sergeant’s exam three years later but decided to stay as a constable to become a traffic officer, the role he had always wanted.

David joined the traffic department in 2006, enjoying some of the most satisfying years of his career. He also voluntarily trained as a Family Liaison Officer, supporting relatives during the harrowing period of bereavement after losing a loved one in a road traffic accident.

In the early hours of Sunday, July 4, 2010, David was in his patrol car parked on the A1 Western bypass in Newcastle.

He had chosen that spot specifically in the hope of apprehending Raoul Moat, who was being sought by police after shooting his former girlfriend and killing her new boyfriend 24 hours earlier.

David was on his own and was unarmed, but gave no thought to his safety as he devoted his shift to assist in the hunt for the dangerous gunman.

Seconds after replying to a text message from his wife telling him to take care, a sixth sense made him aware of someone approaching his car. He glanced over his left shoulder to see Moat, a bodybuilder and former bouncer, running at him holding a double-barrelled shotgun.

David had no time to react before Moat fired the gun from just 3ft away through the closed passenger window and into David’s face. A second shot hit him in the chest.

He was rushed to hospital suffering from injuries that were so bad that no-one – including David himself – gave him much chance of survival. Amazingly, the surgeons were able to save his life, but they could not save his sight.

He was left blind in both eyes with no hope of any sight ever being restored.

In the following months, David made a remarkable recovery and, showing the same bravery and determination as he did in his daily role as a police officer, refused to let his disability defeat him and went about living his life as best as he could.

He had the idea of starting a charity while lying in his hospital bed to provide emergency financial aid to help anyone from our three emergency services who was injured in the line of duty as he believed that none of them should be out of pocket financially should the worst happen.

The Blue Lamp Foundation was created in October 2010

Following a brave battle to overcome his injuries and adapt to his new life, David passed away at the age of 44 on 29th February 2012 at his home in Northumberland. The Patrons and Trustees of his charity vowed to continue the work he started and are taking the charity from strength to strength.

Burton-based Paramedic John Eames was the first person to receive a grant from The Blue Lamp Foundation.  John was injured in a road traffic accident in 2011 after a Polish lorry driver crossed onto the wrong side of the road and crashed into his ambulance.

John was trapped in the vehicle for over two hours and suffered a shattered knee joint and severely broken the right leg.  He spent six months in hospital as a result of his injuries, but he was able to return home thanks to a £2,500 grant from The Blue Lamp Foundation.  The grant paid for modifications to be made to his home so that he could continue his recovery in the comfort of familiar surroundings.

David Rathband travelled to meet John at his home and hand over his grant cheque.  It was a very proud day for both of them.

John then became a Charity Champion and active fundraiser for The Blue Lamp Foundation and two years ago he was made a Trustee of the Charity in recognition of all of his hard work.

The Foundation relies on a network of Charity Champions who are serving Police, Fire and Ambulance men and women who actively fundraise and raise awareness of the financial support available to any injured colleagues.

There are vacancies for voluntary Charity Champions across the UK, anyone interested in getting involved can apply via the website: www.bluelamp-foundation.org.

After David’s death the Foundation revised its role and remit and now covers both physical and mental injuries received while on duty.  It has funded significant health and emotional wellbeing programmes for all three emergency services.

£60,000 has been provided to the Fire Fighters Charity (FFC) to develop a Mental and Emotional Wellbeing Programme for Fire Fighters in need of support.  Earlier this year an additional £11,000 of funding went to FFC to upskill its psychological services team.

£75,000 has gone to the Police Treatment Centre in Harrogate to develop a whole person programme so that mental welfare can be included for those having residential treatment for physical injuries or those who specifically need psychological support.

A further £60,000 also went to The Police Treatment Centre to refurbish three bedrooms to provide much-needed support to injured police officers in appropriate circumstances, in particular, those with mobility problems and as such may also require specialist bariatric equipment.

The Blue Lamp Foundation is now working with the Ambulance Services Charity and providing funding to introduce a programme to help those injured and their families cope with the emotional impact of those injuries on the whole family.

A national bereavement support service has just been launched this month to help children and families whose parents or close relatives have been killed while on duty with one of the emergency services.

The specialist service is being funded out of a £1 million endowment granted to the Joint Emergency Services Bereavement Fund from the Libor fines funding. The bereavement fund is managed by TASC, The Ambulance Staff Charity on behalf of all of the participating emergency services charities in England.

The cost of the first year of operation was met by a welcome £30k donation from the Blue Lamp Foundation.

The Blue Lamp Foundation has also given grants to dozens of individuals who have been injured on duty and have made it easier for injured emergency services personnel to claim through a simplified grant application process.

Applicants do not have to be a member of the Foundation or have contributed to be eligible for a grant. Applications can be submitted at any time but must be made within six months of the date that the injury was sustained, unless the Board of Trustees agrees an extension of time in exceptional circumstances.

Peter Sweeney, Chairman of the Foundation, explained that the Committee and Trustees of the Foundation have “worked hard to develop the Foundation and ensure it is in keeping with the spirit in which it was established”.

He said: “We are delighted to have been able to extend the assistance we can provide beyond specific financial contributions to individuals to funding key support services. We are looking forward to further opportunities to provide assistance to other emergency service personnel.”

The Blue Lamp Foundation relies on the generosity of supporters and fundraisers to do the work it does.

Peter Sweeney, said: “We continue to be surprised by the generosity, originality and spirit of our followers – they are helping us make a difference, and each and every one of them can be proud of themselves.

“We have great support from serving emergency services personnel and their families who take on challenges and fundraising events on our behalf.”

The Blue Lamp Foundation doesn’t like to hear of anyone from our emergency services being injured in the line of duty, but PC David Rathband’s lasting legacy means that it is there for those that are.

For more information on The Blue Lamp Foundation, how to make a grant application as the result of being injured in the line of duty or to find out more about becoming a Charity Champion for your service, visit: www.bluelamp-foundation.org

Or contact Sharron Ashurst

PR Director, The Blue Lamp Foundation

07775 801471 or email s.ashurst@bluelamp-foundation.org

UCP Excellentia APCC