Two ‘superhero’ Lancashire officers recently surprised a young Ariana Grande fan they helped at the One Love concert in Manchester.
Sgt Luke Newman and PC Nick Cross headed to Durham on Monday on their rest days to be reunited with 10-year-old Poppy Sutcliffe from Teeside after a chance meeting outside the concert on Sunday, June 4.
Poppy had attended the Ariana Grande concert with her mum Sarah Sutcliffe when a bomb was detonated which killed 22 people and injured many more. Luckily, neither Poppy nor Sarah were hurt in the blast.
They were due to attend the subsequent One Love charity concert on Sunday 3 June but both became anxious and apprehensive as they were making their way in.
Sgt Newman and PC Cross – usually based at Preston - were at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground assisting Greater Manchester Police colleagues when they came across Poppy and Sarah.
Sgt Newman said: “We saw a little girl, Poppy, and her mum, Sarah, understandably very scared and upset as they were going in. Poor Poppy was crying and sought comfort from Nick, who ended up hugging her because she was so upset.
“We reassured them that we were there to look after them and that they would be safe. We encouraged them to go in and enjoy themselves which I am delighted to say is exactly what they did."
Their encounter didn’t end there; following the concert Sarah was keen to trace the duo to personally thank them for their kind words of reassurance.
She posted an appeal on Facebook which was seen by Durham PCSO Lisa Hall, an ex-colleague of Sarah’s, who turned detective and managed to track the officers down.
With the help of Durham’s Chief Constable, Mike Barton, who previously served in Lancashire and Assistant Chief Constable Tim Jacques from Lancashire Constabulary, Lisa arranged a surprise reunion.
The first part involved Sgt Newman and PC Cross going along to Middlesbrough College, where Sarah works, to surprise her.
She said: “Monday started off as a very ordinary day but became an outstanding day as I was asked to go and meet some visitors.
“The sight of Luke and Nick with my friend Lisa walking into my staff room knocked me for six and started the tears flowing!
“I was overjoyed to see two people that on June 4 became my inspiration, my reason to feel strong and protected and the catalyst to believe me and my little girl could confidently attend the benefit concert.
“They had time to talk to us, reassure us and even be there for a cuddle. After the concert that night we were so proud that we did it but disappointed we hadn’t said goodbye or thank you to the two police officers. Now we’ve had the opportunity to thank Luke and Nick for that night, talk about what had happened, gain a little closure and are actually really proud to have acquired two new friends”
The officers, accompanied by Sarah, then went to Ingleby Mill Primary School in Thornaby to surprise Poppy and her classmates who got to experience what it’s like to be a police officer, sitting in a carrier van and trying on public order equipment such riot shields.
The last stop was at Durham Police headquarters where Chief Constable Mike Barton had a specially arranged lunch with Sarah, Poppy, PC Cross, Sgt Newman and PCSO Lisa Hall.
The day ended with Poppy being taken on a drive around the area with police interceptors Sgt Sam Turner and PC Grant Irvin, who also presented her with a ‘trauma teddy’ usually given to victims of crime and road accidents.
Sarah summed up her experience of the day saying: “Poppy became a little star for the day and as a parent I have been so proud of how she has dealt with this whole experience since the initial Ariana Grande concert.
“I can’t thank Lisa Hall enough for arranging this special day and Luke and Nick for simply being amazing individuals that have come into our lives and made it better. These two are infectious in their personality, their love for their job and how they looked after us along with this day will stay with me forever. We had such fun that I was sad to say goodbye.
“They told me they were just doing their job. This hasn’t just been their job, this was going above and beyond, travelling up on their day off and giving their time to us. They deserve the highest accolade for being our superheroes both at the concert and on Monday.
“These officers are proof that an ordinary day becomes extraordinary when the right people are part a part of it.”
Sgt Luke Newman said: “It was quite emotional meeting for Sarah, Poppy and ourselves, particularly after we heard there had been a social media search to find us.
“On that Sunday evening, we were just there doing our jobs in reassuring members of the public but it was so rewarding to see what a positive impact we had on Lisa and young Poppy who could have been so traumatised by their previous experience that they daren’t go to the concert. I am so happy and proud that they chose to overcome those feelings and go in and enjoy themselves.”
PC Nick Cross added: “It was an absolute pleasure getting to meet both Poppy and Sarah again and to see the joy on their faces during this special day arranged just for them.
“Helping them out on the night and seeing how grateful they both were has made both me and Luke extremely proud of the job we do.”