I probably knew Steve for a shorter time than many (if not most) of my former colleagues, but he was one of a few people who made a significant impression upon me, especially in my formative years in the police force.
I met him on my very first set of shifts as a police officer at Chester, and was immediately impressed by the big, calm guy who sat quietly watching and listening to the group, laughing heartily at the banter, and drinking from his big green Stanley flask of coffee. At the scene of incidents where he was required, Steve was uniformly professional, skilled and insightful. I never once saw him lose his composure, never saw his feathers ruffled, and very rarely heard him raise his voice – he was one of those people who didn’t need to. As a young man I tried to shut up and listen when he was talking, and quietly, whether he meant to or not, he taught me a great deal about being a copper.
He had joined the Bobbies as a cadet some fifty years ago; a mere whippersnapper of sixteen. He would go on to wear the uniform for another thirty five years, twenty seven of them with a dog at his side. Anyone who worked with him could judge him by his relationship with his dogs; they respected and loved him and his way with the dogs (absent-mindedly stroking them or playing with their ears while he chatted with colleagues) spoke volumes about the man. Dogs can tell; he was a good, honest guy.
Outside of work I had the pleasure of enjoying his company on occasion. Steve seemed to be very much a man devoted to his family, and spoke very warmly of Ruth and his children while keeping his private life at a comfortable distance from work. I enjoyed some startlingly competitive games of squash with the big fellah as well as the after effects of what he rather playfully called ‘Oak Wine’, which upon reflection should probably have been banned as a weapon of mass destruction. I can still remember the sensation of it lifting off the top of my head, but not a great deal of what happened afterwards…
I will remember him as a friend and as someone to whom I looked up; someone whom I aspired to emulate (but never succeeded) and someone who will be remembered by a great many people with respect and fondness. I will remember him as fundamentally honest, kind, knowledgeable and insightful, fun to be around and immensely professional. Those who knew him better will remember things which he kept private but which his personality hinted at. I believe the world has lost the kind of man to whom I still look up, the kind of man I still aspire to emulate, and the kind of man I believe we will all miss; a quietly great man.
The world lost him on April 10th 2018, and is a lesser place for it.
Farewell, my friend.