WATCH: Murdered Ashfield police officer Christopher McDonald is remembered as new memorial is unveiled
A young Ashfield police officer who was killed with his own truncheon after chasing a suspected burglar in 1978 finally has the memorial he deserves thanks to a three-year-long fundraising campaign.
The memorial for Christopher McDonald, who died on May 17 1978 aged just 19, was unveiled in an emotional ceremony outside Worksop Library this morning – marking 43 years since his tragic death.
PC McDonald, from Skegby, was the first Nottinghamshire Police officer to be killed in the line of duty after responding to an alarm sounding at a jeweller’s shop on Central Avenue during a night shift, chasing the suspects towards the River Ryton.
He radioed colleagues to say he was in contact with the suspects, but after sending a message of their whereabouts nothing further was heard from him.
A search was launched and his body was found later that morning in the river, just 200 yards from the scene of the burglary.
Later the same day, 20-year-old Peter Albert Loveday was arrested and subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
He admitted fighting with the officer, taking his truncheon and using both it and a brick to beat him about the head and face before leaving him to die by the side of the river.
Nottinghamshire Police has never forgotten PC McDonald’s sacrifice and each year flowers are laid at their headquarters by the Chief Constable in his memory.
But one officer took it upon himself to go out of his way to make sure a fitting memorial was created to ensure PC McDonald’s name, and what happened to him, live on for future generations to remember him by.
Neighbourhood and schools officer PC John Graham collected more than £6,000 in various donations and, with the help of Nottinghamshire County Council, has finally been able to see his hard work realised as the granite monument was finally revealed.
PC Graham said: “Christopher’s dad has passed away now, but I was told what affected him a lot was the thought of Christopher being forgotten.
"That has always stuck with me. Worksop was my patch for 17 years and I would often check on Christopher’s existing memorial in the town centre, near the Halifax Bank.
“But it was quite faded and not in a prominent enough position. For the sacrifice Christopher made for the people of Worksop I think this is much more substantial.
"The design, words and location have all been chosen by the family which is the most important thing for me.”
PC Graham was joined by PC McDonald’s surviving family members, alongside dignitaries from across the force including Chief Constable Craig Guildford, at the special ceremony on Monday morning.
Also in attendance was newly-elected Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry and Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle for Worksop East.
The service was led by Canon Nicolas Spicer, the vicar of Worksop Priory.
PC McDonald’s sister, Elaine Dean, spoke of how touched the family are by PC Graham’s work.
She said: “The family has found it very touching that John has worked to remember Christopher in this way.
“Christopher had turned 19 in March that year and was killed in May. It was his first post into joining the police at Worksop.
“He had been a cadet for two years prior to that, he loved the sporty side of it and being with mates who were like-minded.
“His career was cut very short and I am pleased and proud that he is being remembered in this way.
“We are thankful for John for the hard work he has put into this memorial and the ceremony.”
Coun Gilfoyle added: “Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work over a number of years to have what I believe will be for the family a more suitable, fitting and visible memorial to PC Christopher McDonald - a very brave young man who gave the ultimate sacrifice in pursuant of his duties and he deserves to be remembered by us all.
“I would like to thank both PC John Graham and PC Beverley Jeffree for inviting me at the start of the project to work with them. It’s been a privilege.
“My thanks also go to all the partners who have funded or assisted in other ways to bring this project to its completion.”
Coun Chris Barnfather, Nottinghamshire County Council Conservative Group business manager and a former Detective Superintendent with Nottinghamshire Police, said: “I personally knew Christopher when he worked as a cadet at Mansfield Police Station.
"I was on duty on May 17 1978 and was informed that ‘one of our own”’was missing.
“Subsequently, we heard the tragic news of Chris’s death. Together with other officers, I was part of the original investigation team which led to the arrest and conviction of the offender.
"I vividly remember the outpouring of grief locally during Chris’s funeral and the immense sense of loss felt by his colleagues.
"It is hugely important that Chris’s sacrifice whilst serving his community is never forgotten, and this memorial will ensure that he is forever in our thoughts.”
PC McDonald, from Skegby, was born on March 19, 1959 and joined the force in 1976 as a police cadet before completing his training at the National Police College at Dishforth.
He was then posted to police the Worksop area. At that time, police were investigating a series of commercial burglaries committed overnight around Worksop town centre.
In 1980, he was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.
The county council contributed £5,000 through its Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) towards the new memorial with further funding from Coun Gilfoyle’s County Council Divisional fund.