Standing on an embankment to create a human chain for casualties and bodies to be passed from a crashed plane in Kegworth is the haunting memory a Spalding police sergeant will take with him into his retirement.
Sgt Stuart Brotherton hangs up his helmet for the last time at the end of the month after 30 years service.
Destiny steered him back to the town where he was born but he says many of the highlights of his career were during his time with Leicestershire Police.
He said: “When I started out Lincolnshire Police was not recruiting so it seemed a natural choice to join a neighbouring force.
“The 1980s were some of my happiest and most memorable years.”
During his time based at Melton Mowbray he was involved in indexing data during the Caroline Osbourne murder investigation, the miners’ strike and was called to assist at the Handsworth riots and the Kegworth air disaster.
Sgt Brotherton said: “For an officer who had not been in the force long, standing on an embankment to create a human chain for casualties and bodies to be passed along was a harrowing experience. It’s a memory that will stay with me forever.”
He was promoted to operations sergeant for Leicester and the surrounding area in the late 1980s.
Among the awards Sgt Brotherton received was the Chief Constable’s Commendation for bravery for arresting an armed robber.
He said: “Luck was with me because I spotted a vehicle like the one reported but the driver didn’t seem to be acting suspiciously. I followed him and when he turned off the main road and he got out and put his hands in the air.
“There was a gun under the seat – not a real one but the victim wouldn’t have know that.”
In addition to the bravery award, he has also received a number of internal Superintendent Commendations for meeting performance objectives.
Personal reasons brought him back to the area in 1996 –starting in Oakham – and introduced him to neighbourhood policing.
During nine of the past ten Spalding Flower Parades he was responsible for organising the policing of the streets until it was handed over to security firms.
He said: “At the beginning it was a huge task. It was nice to get an email this year from the organisers thanking me.”
Over the years he has seen many changes. He said: “From the 1990s there has been a lot of restructuring in the force.
“Political involvement has also seen budget cuts and that has naturally made the job more challenging.
“Locally, our challenges have included anti-social behaviour and street drinking.
“But I think I am leaving Spalding in good shape. There is an excellent team of officers here to carry on the work.
“They are my second family and I’m really going to miss them.”
Married a few months ago to his partner of 20 years, Sgt Brotherton intends to take some time out after retiring to spend with his family.
He said: “They say behind every successful man there’s a good woman – and Pat has been my rock over the years.”
However, at 54 he doesn’t intend to sit back and relax for long. He said: “I’ll be looking for some work that will hopefully make some use of my years in the force.”