A bench at Hanley Park has been unveiled in honour of a long-standing community police officer who is retiring this month.
PC David Marshall, known locally as ‘The Sheriff’, has been on the beat in and around the Shelton and Hanley Park area since 2000, having joined Staffordshire Police as a constable back in 1990.
To mark the end of his career, a plaque with his name has been fitted to a heritage bench at Hanley Park, the first of 20 to be installed in the park as part of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s ongoing £6 million restoration project. The benches, which come with personalised plaques, can be leased by individuals, businesses or organisations for a 10-year period. To launch the bench scheme, the city council and Staffordshire Police have worked together to dedicate the first one to PC Marshall, in recognition of his service to the area.
The bench was unveiled today in the park’s Cauldon Grounds, next to the recently restored Hammersley Fountain, during a surprise service attended by father-of-two PC Marshall and his family, as well as representatives from the police and council. Signal 2 DJ Paul Fairclough, a friend of PC Marshall who came up with the suggestion for PC Marshall to have his name on one of the plaques after reading about the initiative, broadcast his 10am to 2pm show live from the park as part of the event.
Councillor Anthony Munday, cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure, said: “If anyone deserves a bench with their name on it in Hanley Park, then David – or ‘The Sheriff’ as he is affectionately known in these parts – has to be right up there. His colleagues tell me it is unusual these days for a police officer to stay working in one patch for so long, so you have to applaud the dedication and service he has given to keeping this community safe over all these years.
“This is a very exciting year for the park as the restoration programme enters its biggest phase, with work being carried out on key features such as the boathouse, bandstand and pavilion which will really transform the venue. I really like the idea of putting people’s names onto benches in the park because it celebrates everything that is great about our community. We want this park to be a real community facility once all the work is complete, and a place where people of all ages can come and enjoy themselves in a safe and friendly environment.”
The 20 heritage benches with plaques will be located around the fountain and also the Terrace Gardens in the main park. The first four installed around the fountain have been created by Newcastle-based PM Training using recreated moulds of the original bench support. The benches cost £1,000 for a 10-year lease, with money going back into the running and maintenance of the park. The bench for PC Marshall, who retires on January 19, was donated to the police free of charge.
PC Marshall, aged 55, was born in Stoke-on-Trent and grew up in Alsager, where he went to high school. Before joining Staffordshire Police, he worked in IT for British Rail and then briefly for Greater Manchester Police. Having joined Staffordshire Police as a constable in 1990, he worked in the Hanley area before joining the regional crime squad on a secondment from 1997 to 1999. In 2000 he joined the neighbourhood policing team and was placed in Shelton. During his time at the force, he has worked under eight chief constables.
On the unveiling of the bench, he said: “I never thought I’d receive something like this, I just thought I’d quietly fade away without much of a fuss. It’s unbelievable.”
Chief Inspector Phil Eaton, who is the Commander for Stoke Central Local Policing Team, said: “I’m delighted that PC Marshall’s dedication to the community of Shelton has been recognised and rewarded with this kind gesture. It’s fitting that such an exceptional officer can leave a lasting mark within the community he has served for so long. While we will clearly miss such a valued colleague who is leaving the policing family, we wish him well for the future and the next exciting chapter of his life.”
The first 20 benches are available for a reduced cost of £1,000. Anyone interested should contact Ruth Stanway on 01782 238598 or email firstname.lastname@example.org