Diary - remembering a fallen hero

When I read in the newspaper yesterday that PC Keith Palmer's funeral was today, I hitched a lift to London with my son and daughter last night. Knowing many of the roads around parliament and of course Southwark Cathedral, where the funeral was to be held, would be closed, I hopped on the underground and made my way to London Bridge station, which is only a short walk from the cathedral. I don't think I've seen so many policemen and women in one place in my lifetime. There were thousands of them, all in their smart dress uniforms and all come to pay their respects to their murdered colleague Keith. I attempted to enter the cathedral but it was a ticket only event so I went into an enclosed area near the entrance and underneath a railway bridge. I was told by one police officer that there was a brilliant market there normally. Arriving at about 1215, I had a lot of time on my hands and spent most of it chatting to the many police officers who surrounded me. They told me that they were meant to be street-lining, but so many officers from around the country had come that there was no room for them in the street. Keith's coffin had been laid to rest overnight in the Palace of Westminster, the place he tried valiantly to defend when he was murdered. The cortege wound its way slowly from the Palace to Southwark Cathedral, arriving just before 1400. By this time the cathedral was packed, the Government represented by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Newly appointed Met Commissioner Cressida Dick was also there, as were many other dignitaries. Apparently about 50 members of Keith's family attended, although the cameras remained sensitive to their request not to be filmed personally. I watched only feet away as Keith's coffin was lifted out of the hearse, which had a floral tribute on the roof reading, No 1 Daddy, and up on to the shoulders of his colleagues. It was not an easy route into the cathedral and the journey was slow. Two police helicopters that had been circling overhead dropped their noses in salute before flying off. Eventually, everyone was ready, and up the aisle everyone all went. The Service was sensitively led by the Dean of Southwark, The Very Reverend Andrew Nunn. He gave an excellent address, which followed a touching eulogy from Keith's commanding officer. The choir was superb and sang hauntingly well. I stood to attention as the Last Post was played and the national anthem sung. Then, finding another colleague, George Freeman, we walked away from what had been a most poignant and appropriate send off for a very brave man, who stood his ground in the face of appalling violent to do his duty. Keith died protecting me, my colleagues and our democracy, and I was honoured to be there to witness the event for myself. My thoughts go out to Keith's family and friends and let's hope we do not have to attend another Service like today's. I caught the train back to Dorset and send a text to  Assistant Chief Constable Mark Cooper, who was representing Dorset Police with a few of his colleagues, saying thank you for all that he and his colleagues did for us. Today's sad event brings it all home in all too real a fashion. A truly humbling day.