Retired Essex Police dog handler close to realising dream of national police dog memorial in Chelmsford park

A maquette of the National K9 Memorial. Picture: K9 MEMORIAL FUND

A maquette of the National K9 Memorial. Picture: K9 MEMORIAL FUND - Credit: Archant

A national memorial for police dogs is to be installed in an Essex park after a campaign spearheaded by a former Chelmsford police officer – and donations are needed to see the project finished.

Pc Paul Nicholls and Fidget the police dog

Pc Paul Nicholls and Fidget the police dog - Credit: Archant

Retired Pc Paul Nicholls launched the K9 Memorial Fund after the loss of his first canine partner.

Mr Nicholls from Colchester, who was awarded the Queens Police Medal in the 2017 birthday honours for his work as a dog handler, got a plaque installed at Essex Police headquarters, but is now working with others on a national memorial.

Planning permission has been given for the honour to be installed in Oaklands Park, Chelmsford, and top sculptor John Doubleday has been commissioned to create the piece.

A maquette of the final design has been drawn up, depicting a dog handler with a German Shepherd and a Spaniel, which reflects the “special bond of mutual respect between handler and dog”. The Spaniel is modelled on Mr Nicholl’s own dog.

Pc Paul Nicholls with Sabre. Picture: PC NICHOLLS/ESSEX POLICE

Pc Paul Nicholls with Sabre. Picture: PC NICHOLLS/ESSEX POLICE - Credit: Archant

Mr Nicholl joined the Essex Police dog section in 2000, fulfilling a childhood dream, but it was when his work partner and companion Sabre had to be put down in 2006 that he looked at memorials.

Mr Nicholls said: “I joined with my eyes wide shut and I think there was always an elephant in the room that one day my K9 partner would no longer be with me.

“We’d been a team, I’d sent him into buildings looking for gunmen, into woods looking for knifemen, he never argued or protested – he did it because I’d asked him to and he trusted me.

Most Read

“When he died my world fell completely apart. I’d lost pets before but this was different.

Pc Paul Nicholls. Picture: PAUL NICHOLLS

Pc Paul Nicholls. Picture: PAUL NICHOLLS - Credit: Archant

“I wanted to remember him. I discovered a plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum with an extract from a wonderful poem by Lord Byron – but thought they deserved more than that.

“I’m delighted we have planning permission and less than £60,000 is needed to see the project fully funded.

“Please help us reach this target so that work can start before the end of the year.

“We are currently actively looking for donors and sponsors who appreciate what our dogs do for the police in the UK to contribute to the fund.”

To make a donation visit the memorial website or to discuss sponsorship email p.nicholls@k9memorial.org.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter