John and Kathy Simmons, parents of PC John Stephen Simmons, of Bedfordshire Police, talk about support at Parents’ Weekend. Each and every one who attended the Parents’ Weekend, along with other COPS events, has suffered terrible loss.
Maintaining a meaningful life, relating to others, trying to make sense and understand life in general becomes very difficult. So when COPS made contact with us after the loss of John, it was hard to comprehend, who, how and why this group of people were trying to help us. Attending this year’s Parents’ Weekend, we met people that understand, old friends, parents who know how we feel – somehow lending support to each other and all having a common bond.
Arriving at the Hotel we were fortunate, the Hotel allowed dogs in certain rooms and we brought along Ella, a soft gentle Dobermann, who made friends with every one she met. Socially, we found we talked freely and gained great comfort from others. Ella became the talking point and certainly broke the ice with many parents – the friendship and understanding again was very evident.
The Hotel had gardens to walk Ella – sadly we noticed new faces to the Parents’ Weekend, who we had not seen before. We chatted, made friends, offered words of understanding and listened to theirs. We talked as only parents can. This weekend gave parents the chance to meet and reflect. Dinner was a pleasant arrangement; unfortunately for those in close proximity, with me talking non-stop about Ella the Dobermann and how she had also helped us through the difficult times.
At breakfast, quiet and peaceful, requesting one extra sausage at breakfast for the Dobie in the room. We spent a very pleasant sunny but cool day at Warwick Castle and Grounds. We talked to a newcomer to the COPS family who lost her son this year, and happened to love dogs. We chatted about the Hotel, the day ahead and the pancake outing in the afternoon. Despite our sorrow, we are grateful to have been there, next morning we made our way back to the lounge to say our goodbyes. Some parents had not left the breakfast area, so we handed Ella to Suzette – a newcomer to COPS – to hold just while we went inside and said our goodbye.
In the restaurant hugs and goodbyes, on returning to the lounge Ella quietly laying on the floor with Suzette next to her gently stroking Ella, and smiles all round.
Walking around the grounds towards the car, with Ella, our thoughts again turned to John and others lost, and all the people who work so hard to support COPS, who fundraise, give up their time, the members of COPs who are so warm, friendly and understanding.
Without these people where would the support come from, who would be there? Through the sorrow, a feeling of gratitude to all those unselfish dedicated people, both within COPS and outside who do so much. We can only say thank you.
Article courtesy of: John, Kathy and Ella the Dobermann, and COPS Magazine