Three Metropolitan Police officers have run 18 miles around London to remember all those affected by recent terrorist attacks and significant tragedies in the capital.
The Run To Remember – by left to right PC Darren Sanders, PC Mick Gibson and Sgt Darren Laurie – took place on the fourth anniversary of the London Bridge terrorist attack.
The memorial run was to remember the victims of the events in 2017 as well as highlight the trauma and mental health issues suffered by some of the emergency services staff who had responded to the attacks.
The officers stopped to pay their respects at the National Police Memorial and four sites of 2017 terror attacks – London Bridge, Westminster, Parsons Green and Finsbury Park mosque – as well as at Grenfell Tower, where the tragic fire occurred just two weeks after the London Bridge attack.
Sgt Darren Laurie was one of the first responders at both the London Bridge and Westminster incidents. He said: “We are remembering the victims and those who were injured. There are still people living with injuries as a result of these incidents.
“We also want to highlight the ongoing welfare of all blue light services, those who attended these incidents but also those who suffer trauma from day-to-day events.
“We’re remembering what happened that year in London, but we’re also very conscious of what happened at Manchester Arena that year too.
“We all know officers who were affected following these incidents or similar ones. Sometimes there is delayed trauma – police officers, ambulance staff and firefighters carry that stress forward.”
Darren added: “It was a tough 18 miles – and it was very hot. We’ve covered every step of every mile. For us it was about marking the day. As officers we all have stories and know of people affected by all the events of 2017. But even the daily things we see as police officers… some people can see it as normal business. Some people can struggle a little bit.
“Four years have passed since some of these events in 2017 and I am still getting phone calls from people saying they are struggling a little bit so today was about raising the welfare of not just police officers but all emergency services.”
Earlier this year Darren was awarded a Police Medal and Bronze Clasp by the Royal Humane Society for his courage at the attacks. Fifteen other Metropolitan Police officers received medals.
Darren said: “These were the first major counter-terrorism incidents in London since the 2005 bombings. There were some very young officers there, but everyone stepped up.
“Everyone took whatever role fell to them and got on as best as they could. The actions of those officers made things slightly better than they would have been otherwise. People lived and people were less injured because of those officers.”
Darren acted as a medic at both incidents, overseeing the rescue effort and ensuring casualties were getting first aid. He helped treat some very serious and traumatic injuries and was the last officer to leave Westminster Bridge, eight hours after the attack.
He said the officers’ experiences at Westminster sadly prepared them for the horrors of the London Bridge attack just weeks later. “We learnt things on that day that certainly helped us later on. But it was also the attitude of the officers that really made the difference. That group of officers were so good at dealing with critical incidents.”
But he said the events had taken their toll on officers’ mental health.
He said: “We recognised quite early on that some of our team had been affected quite dramatically by the incidents. Some of us became Blue Light Champions for the welfare of our colleagues as much as anything else. That still remains. We’re still aware that it’s not gone away for some people – and that is an ongoing issue.”
Darren said that the people injured and killed at the incidents was “what we talk about more than anything else – we need to remember that”. But he added: “There are also colleagues that came as first responders – not just police, but fire, ambulance, members of the public that weighed in. And I know that some of those are still suffering today as a result of that in one shape or form.”
Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, met the trio at the National Police Memorial on the Mall. Ken said: “This event provides an opportunity to remember all those who lost their lives and were injured in 2017 at the London Bridge terrorist attack – four years ago today – and the brave emergency services heroes who ran towards the danger.
“Of course, 2017 was a horrific year for terrorist attacks and significant tragedies in the capital. Our thoughts remain with all those affected. That includes all the first responders who will sadly carry some of the scenes they witness with them for many years to come.
“We must not forget our colleagues’ welfare and wellbeing. It is critical – and we would like to congratulate Darren, Darren and Mick for raising awareness of the mental health toll that policing can have on the brave men and women who wear the uniform.”