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'I wish I'd held him longer that night': Widow of police officer killed in Cumbria floods

Hazel Barker Credit: ITV Border

Ten years on, the widow of a police officer who died during the Cumbria floods has been remembering her brave husband.

On 20 November 2009, PC Bill Barker died saving the lives of many people by guiding them away from the crumbling Northside Bridge in Workington when it gave way beneath him.

His body was later found on a beach downstream. It was the day before his 45th birthday.

The officer, from Egremont, served with Cumbria Police for 25 years and left a wife and four children.

His widow Hazel says she still lives with the pain every day. She said: "It feels no different to the first anniversary and, I'm sure it sounds really strange, but I still miss Bill as much as I missed him back then."

She goes on: "I think if it were the 25th anniversary, the pain would still be the same. The only difference is, I look at the children and they're no longer children."

PC Bill Barker died after a bridge collapsed beneath him. Credit: Family photo

"I don't have any regrets, but sometimes I wish I'd held Bill a little bit longer that night. If I'd known it was the last night."

– Hazel Barker

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Almost 24,000 people paid tribute to the PC Barker, who was hailed a hero on social media, and hundreds of people attended his funeral.

A new crossing to replace the bridge was named after him and opened by the Princess Royal in October 2012.

Hazel says she can't visit the place where her husband lost his life. She said: "I cannot go to the bridge. I have never been to the cemetery because Bill was so much more than a bag of bones. But Bill is in all of the memories. When I look at my children, I see Bill.

"It's because of how much I love Bill that ten years down the line my heart is still broken."

An aerial view of the destroyed Northside bridge in Workington. Credit: PA

Instead of visiting the cemetery, Hazel remembers him at a memorial in Curwen Park, in Workington, which was unveiled seven years ago.

Hazel said: "It's almost symbolic of Bill still being on duty. It means everything to us, it means we have somewhere to go on anniversaries or birthdays. We just fill with pride."

Family, friends and colleagues continue to raise money in Bill's memory with an annual football tournament and fundraising events.

In March 2012, he was posthumously awarded a Queen's Commendation for the act of bravery that cost him his life.

On the tenth anniversary of his death, a service will be held by Cumbria Police to remember their fallen officer. On social media, the force said: "No one at Cumbria Constabulary will ever forget the sacrifice he made serving his community."

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