A RETIRED Ashbourne policeman has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to policing and the community in Ashbourne over his 32 year career in the force.
Ian (Mini) Cooper, 52, from Windmill Lane, retired from the service in 2012 and currently works as a teaching assistant in Elton, near Winster.
A statement from the Cabinet Office read: “Since 1981 he has devoted his police service to the town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire.
“His community work in the area has been exemplary.
“In 2011 he was awarded a Certificate of Merit, by Ashbourne Town Council, for work within the community dealing with nuisance young drivers.
“A key success was a tireless campaign for bridge improvement work on the A515 trunk road passing through his area, following serious and fatal traffic collisions on the road.
“Through dogged hard work the bridge improvements went ahead and life saving changes were made reducing the collision category by at least 30 per cent.
“It is through his community work that he excels, working consistently at capacity; to maintain such a high level over so many years is extraordinary.
“He has put a local face to police work and become an icon of policing in the town.
“He obtained local funding for and attended a course in Child Protection Awareness and Safer Recruitment and his links with local schools have never been stronger.”
Mr Cooper joined Derbyshire police force in October 1980 and underwent his initial training in Bruche.
His first posting was to Matlock for a year, before being stationed with the team in Ashbourne just before Christmas,
Mr Cooper said: “Initially I didn’t want to leave Matlock, I only had a year in, and I wanted to try and learn as much as I could before I was moved, as I still had another year to do as a probationer.
“But once I made the move I soon settled in, and began policing the town on foot.
“Back then pretty well all my shifts were this way, I remember on night we would wander round checking all the shops were securely shut up, and once or twice we set off alarms by accident when we discovered doors that hadn’t been locked.
“The great thing about ending a night shift this way was we always called in at Bate’s bakery for a coffee and freshly baked bun when we finished.”
Ian’s next role was in traffic, a position that saw him patrolling the town centre and villages to the north of Ashbourne by car for 11 years.
In 2001 he came off traffic to take up a new role with a very different mode of transport.
Explaining the new position Mr Cooper said: “There were some changes going on in the service which meant that local bobbies were being allocated responsibility for villages in the area and were being given pushbikes to do their patrols.
“I asked for a bike and villages along the Tissington Trail, so I could cycle out of town along the trail and then round each of the villages, Thorpe, Tissington and Fenny Bentley.
“I remember one day I could see a young boy and his dad biking on the trail just in front of me, the boy kept turning round and staring at me.
“As I cycled passed him he turned to his father and said “See dad, I told you we were being followed by a policeman”.
“It was a really great way to get out and meet people, and was, of course, very visible policing.”
Mr Cooper, who will be invited to an award ceremony next year to be presented with his BEM, said: “I’ve been extremely lucky throughout my career.
“I always wanted to be a police officer and I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some great people, who have been really supportive and helped me to achieve everything I have done.
“There are so many other people who do fantastic work in the area, and don’t get this kind of recognition, so I would just like to say thank you to everyone who has worked with me over the years.
“I loved being a police officer and was so lucky to be based in Ashbourne for 32 years; this really is just a great way to end that career.”