Wife of 'hero' officer Andrew Harper pays tribute to 'the love of my life' as hundreds of mourners attend funeral

Pc Andrew Harper's wife paid tribute to "the love of my life" describing him as a "gentle giant with a heart of gold" at a private funeral in Oxford.

The 28-year-old Thames Valley Police officer was killed on August 15 while responding to a burglary four weeks after his wedding.

His widow Lissie, alongside his parents Phil and Debbie and brother Sean, were among 800 mourners who attended the service at Christ Church Cathedral on Monday.

At the service, which was broadcast to a second overspill church, Mrs Harper remembered her husband as the "kindest of kind and sweetest of sweet".

Lissie Harper, the widow of PC Andrew Harper, leaves a symbol of his life during his funeral service. Credit: PA

She told the congregation: "Although Andrew was strong he was also unfailingly kind, a gentle giant with a heart of gold.

"To me, Andrew was everything. My breakfast buddy, my dancing partner, the love of my life."

Mrs Harper said their 13-year relationship began as "true childhood sweethearts".

She continued: "You used to tell me we were a team and that we would get through all of life's hurdles together, how I wish you were here with me now. The hardest challenge of all is losing you.

"My lovely boy, I miss you more and more as the days pass into weeks, my love will never fade and the sound of your laugh will stay with me."

Sean Harper, the brother of PC Andrew Harper. Credit: PA

The service began with a short procession through the city, led by mounted officers of Thames Valley Police and watched by crowds who gathered outside the church to pay their respects.

Members of other emergency services and Home Secretary Priti Patel were also among the congregation.

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 force's crest on the sides.

Pc Harper's coffin was draped in a navy blue flag with the force's crest on the sides. Credit: PA

Mrs Harper was presented with her late husband's white ceremonial police hat which she placed on his coffin for the duration of the service.

In addition to prayers from Thames Valley Police lead chaplain Rev Helen Arnold, a colleague from the Roads Policing Unit Pc Jordan Johnstone paid tribute to the fallen officer.

Talking about Pc Harper's "infectious" smile and his hobbit-like eating habits, Pc Johnstone said: "Your personality shone through throughout and I'm so very very proud of you.

"I'm privileged to have worked with you and even more so to call you my friend."

Members of Pc Harper's family laid symbols of his life in front of a large photo of him as part of the service.

The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Martyn Percy, gave the address marking "an exceptional man", prior to the final blessing by the Bishop of Oxford.

Dr Percy said: "Andrew's completely unexpected, sudden and tragic death reminds us of the routine risks that police officers take each day.

Pc Andrew Harper who died while responding to reports of a burglary. Credit: Thames Valley Police/PA

"No-one ever anticipates an ordinary call-out ending in such tragedy."Some might say he was an ordinary man doing an ordinary job. I disagree. He represented policing at its best. He was everything you wanted in a police officer."

A private committal and wake for the close members of Pc Harper's family followed the funeral.

Across the Thames Valley region including Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire flags were flown at half-mast to commemorate the service.

The 28-year-old was killed on duty, as he responded to reports of a burglary on the outskirts of a Berkshire village. He died from multiple injuries after being dragged under a van.

Craig O’Leary, chairman of Thames Valley Police Federation, said Pc Harper was loved by his family, friends and colleagues.

Uniformed officers lined the processional route in Oxford. Credit: ITV Meridian

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.”

LIssie and Andrew Harper on their wedding day. Credit: Family handout
  • Here is the eulogy read by Pc Andrew Harper's wife Lissie, provided by Thames Valley Police, in full:

Today I would like to remember and honour the kind brave and lovely man we all know. We are all here just for you.

Lissie Harper
Lissie and Andrew Harper. Credit: Family handout
  • Mrs Harper then read 'Funeral Blues' - also known as 'Stop All The Clocks' - by W H Auden which featured in the film Four Weddings and A Funeral

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,

I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.