Hundreds attend funeral of 'hero' PC Andrew Harper

Tributes have been paid at the funeral of the ‘treasured’ PC Andrew Harper after he was killed while responding to a burglary.

The helmet of PC Andrew Harper rests on his coffin during his funeral service at Christ Church Cathedral in St Aldate's, Oxford. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The helmet of PC Andrew Harper rests on his coffin during his funeral service at Christ Church Cathedral in St Aldate's, Oxford. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

PC Harper's wife Lissie and his brother Sean were among 800 mourners who attended a private funeral at Christ Church cathedral in Oxford on Monday.

The service was preceded by a procession through the city, led by mounted officers of Thames Valley Police and watched by members of the public gathered outside the church.

As the service began, PC Harper's coffin was placed in the centre of the large cathedral, covered in a navy blue flag with the police crest on the sides.

Members of the public line the High Street in Oxford to pay their respects as the funeral cortege for PC Andrew Harper. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA

After the coffin was carried in by six uniformed officers, Mrs Harper placed her late husband's ceremonial police hat on his coffin for the duration of the service.

Thames Valley Police lead chaplain Reverend Helen Arnold opened the service, attended by officers from PC Harper's force and neighbouring units.

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PC Harper was killed on August 15 near the village of Sulhamstead in Berkshire while responding to a burglary. 

Craig O'Leary, chairman of Thames Valley Police Federation, said PC Harper was a ‘hero’, who was loved by his family, friends and colleagues.

In a statement, Mr O'Leary said: ‘PC Andrew Harper loved being a police officer. It is our sad duty today to pay our last respects to him and support his wife Lissie, his family and his friends at his funeral.

‘This has really hit us all hard and shocked everyone in the whole police service.’

Members of other emergency services also paid their respects at the service which was broadcast to a second overspill church.

After Mrs Harper paid an emotional tribute to her late husband, songs by Shirley Bassey and Russell Watson were played during the service, in addition to performances from the cathedral's choir.

Members of PC Harper's family laid symbols of his life in front of a large photo of him as part of the service, including a Mr Men mug, a box of eggs and a jar of Nutella.

The Dean of Christ Church cathedral, the Very Reverend Professor Martyn Percy, commemorated a ‘kind, brave, strong and loyal man’.

He said: ‘Some might say he was an ordinary man with an ordinary job. I do not agree.

‘He represented policing at its best. He was everything you wanted in a police officer. Authentic, brave, genuine, and kind.’

The dean referenced the outpouring of tributes for PC Harper including the flags flown at half mast across the Thames Valley area on Monday, in addition to other memorials including a bike ride in his honour.

He continued: #Such tributes are treasure for a treasured man but they do not take away the pain of our grief and the pain of our loss.

‘Today we mourn an exceptional man who died in the line of duty and even as we do we give thanks to each and every one here and watching.

‘They selflessly serve our society, the thin blue line which runs through our community.

‘They continue to inspire us just as Andrew does.’

The hour-long service was blessed by the Bishop of Oxford Steven Croft and was followed by a wake attended by PC Harper's close family.

PC Harper's family has asked for any donations to be made to the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital on Aston Road, Haddenham, or the Blue Cross re-homing centre on London Road, Lewknor.