A model bobby and an extraordinary community tribute

west briton front pageVisiting Falmouth last weekend, I became aware of something extraordinary, the news of which I had missed earlier. A local PC called Andy Hocking recently passed away at the untimely age of 52 years old. As a tribute, a friend organised a memorial walk to “Walk the beat (of PC Hocking) one last time”. This was done through social media and led to between 5,000 and 6,000 locals turning out. That’s about a quarter of the town’s population! A week later, virtually every shop had a “Thanks Andy” poster in its window, with the picture of the face of the bobby smiling out. The local papers had double cover spreads of the walk, such as the one above from the West Briton.

So what caused this unusual reaction? Local photographer Hugh Hastings, who worked with PC Hocking for 20 years, told the Falmouth Packet:

He was always a fantastic person. He represented Falmouth in such a superb way. Wonderful at his job. Always had a smile for everybody but he could do his job well at the same time.

He kept control in the most wonderful way. And he’s an irreplaceable icon. We’ll all miss him.

I also think that the reaction says that there is something special about Falmouth.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • There certainly is something special about Falmouth. We went canvassing there and my wife was chased down the street by a racist who in alternate sentences said that (1) everyone like her was sponging off unemployment benefit and (2) taking all the jobs of local people. She has refused to canvass in Cornwall ever again.

  • Alex Sabine 23rd Mar '15 - 2:00pm

    Richard: That must have been an unpleasant experience. But racism, ignorance and bigotry can rear their heads anywhere; though they are, I would like to think, less prevalent in modern Britain than they once were, and less so than in many other countries. They are certainly not unique to Falmouth. Personally (speaking as a Londoner), I have always found Cornwall, its scenery and its people to be a delight. I’m sure your wife would be pleasantly surprised if she gave it another chance.

  • It is such a shame that a piece highighting both a clearly fantastic public servant and the show of support his community showed has seen a comment such as that from Richard above.

    I imagine that Falmouth, like every part of the country, may have it’s share of idiots, but I have visited often including when on honeymoon in nearby St Mawes, and I think it’s a fantastic place. Judging it on the actions of a few is no better than those who seem to have judged your wife…..

    Well done for a life well lived if far too short PC Andy Hocking. I hope your family take comfort from the feeling shown by your community and never see the pointless comment from Richard.

  • Richard@

    I am not judging your wife, sounds like a very unpleasant experience but refusing to canvass in Cornwall means she has semmingly stereotyped people in the same way the racist she was chased by has.

    You can’t write off the whole of Cornwall, or indeed even Falmouth, because of one individual.

  • SIMON BANKS 24th Mar '15 - 1:58pm

    I knew a Falmouth copper in a Liberal family who was one of three needed to arrest and subdue the mayor (drunk driving) and who next week arrested the Harbourmaster. No undue deference to authority, at least…

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