A PRIEST in the north of England has fulfilled a lifelong ambition to become a police officer.
The priest, the Revd Mark Edwards, had yearned to join the constabulary since his childhood, when he spent holidays in London, staying with his cousin, who was a Metropolitan Police officer. Now, almost 50 years later, he has joined the Northumbria Police Force as a special constable.
Mr Edwards, Team Vicar in the Christ the King Team Ministry, Newcastle, started his training last Saturday; he should be on his first beat in 12 weeks’ time.
He said: “I am very blessed to be able to fulfill a childhood dream in joining the police. I hope my faith and my life experiences will equip me for the role. I am sure it will complement my role as a priest. . . My parish is very supportive.”
As a child, Mr Edwards wrote regularly to the police college at Hendon, Middlesex, asking for recruitment details. “They would send me glossy brochures and a lovely letter saying they hoped I would fulfil my dream.”
As a teenager, however, he suffered mental-health problems, became homeless, and tried to take his own life. He spent four months in a mental-health institute (Feature, 27 April 2018).
Then, under the care of a pastor who ran a night shelter, he found faith, and, in 1991, began ordination-training at Cranmer Hall, in Durham. A fellow student who was a special constable rekindled his interest in the force, but his theological studies took precedence. The notion of becoming a special constable returned to him when, in his first parish, Ulverston, in Carlisle diocese, he worked with the police on a problem estate; but when his wife, Lesley, gave birth to twins, the idea was shelved.
In 2008, he moved to Newcastle, and became the Northumbrian force’s chaplain until the post was abolished in 2012. He has also served both as a volunteer with the lifeboat service, and volunteered with the ambulance service. He was appointed MBE for his “services to the voluntary sector in the North East” in 2010, and awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2014 for services as an emergency-service volunteer.
”By that stage , I thought I was too old,” he said. “But, last summer, I read about a 74-year-old special in Essex single-handedly wrestling a 39-year-old man to the ground and arresting him. I found the upper age-limit had been dropped; so I prayed about it, and the longer I prayed the stronger the desire became.
”I’m excited to be involved. I will do anything a regular officer does. It’s a bit daunting at the moment . . . a little like when I was first ordained. I wondered: ‘Can I do this?’ but it’s a journey, and I know I will.”