One of Avon and Somerset Police's family liaison officers has been shortlisted for a national award
PC Lou Phipps has been nominated for Brake's 'Outstanding Officer Achievement Award', which recognises the work police family liaison officers do that often goes unrecognised.
She's been nominated for her work with the family of Matt Potts, who died after a fail-to-stop incident in Bristol 10 years ago - she'll find out if she wins at an event at the Houses of Parliament tomorrow.
The relationship she built with Matt's family was so strong that his mother Wendy decided to make contact again several years later.
Wendy and her friends wanted to show solidarity and empathy towards the families of those that were killed in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017 and turned to Lou for help.
Wendy asked Lou how she could contact any of the FLOs working with families of victims of the Manchester Arena bombing.
At the time Wendy was a member of a group of mothers who had lost children through various circumstances and had been busily knitting squares that were then put together to make ‘mourning blankets’.
The group’s hope was that they could be given to each of the families to show that each was knitted with love by a grieving mother that knew what they were going through, although they were unsure how to best make contact formally and correctly with those grieving families.
On the group’s behalf, Lou made contact with Greater Manchester Police and a conversation was begun.
After a lot of telephone calls and emails a date was set where Wendy could deliver the blankets with another mother.
Lou said: “I am very honoured and totally embarrassed, to have been nominated for this award - I’m not quite sure they’ve got the right person!
“I know that there are other FLOs working with Avon and Somerset that do exactly the same as me and are equally deserving, I was just doing my job like all of us do,” she said.
Lou’s supervisor Sgt Andy Parsons, the force’s family liaison co-ordinator, who nominated his colleague, said: “I’m very pleased that Lou has been shortlisted for this prestigious award. It is richly deserved and she is a worthy recipient.
“Formal recognition of the excellent work that our family liaison officers do, sometimes goes unnoticed and this is an opportunity to highlight that work,” said PS Parsons.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh, said: “The work Louise has done with Wendy Potts and her family following the tragic death of her son Matt is just one example of the many bereaved families that Lou has supported in her role as a family liaison officer.
“She demonstrated the true value of caring and went above and beyond to make this awful situation just that little bit easier for the whole family, not just following the accident but for years after.
“I know that Matt’s mother Wendy will share my pride in seeing Louise being shortlisted for this award. She is an inspiration not only to her fellow liaison officers but to us all.
“Family liaison officers up and down the country volunteer for this very difficult role and dedicate themselves to help families in their darkest hours. I recognise the emotional burden that this often puts on them. I’d like to say well done and I thank them all for their work,” said the chief constable.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Lou went the extra mile to support Wendy Potts following the tragic loss of her son Matt and she made a real difference to the family after the awful accident.
“Family liaison officers have one of the most difficult roles, supporting families and friends in times of turmoil. Lou believes that she was just doing her job but she went above and beyond what is expected of her and that is why she is worthy recipient for this award.”
As well as being a family liason officer, Lou is also a member of the road policing unit based at Bridgwater’s Express Park.