On Tuesday I was privileged to lay a wreath on behalf of NARPO (National Association of Retired Police Officers) at the unveiling of a memorial plaque at Blackburn University Centre to the late Det Insp James O’Donnell on the 64th anniversary of his death when he was fatally shot whilst attending a domestic dispute in Brewery Street.

The ceremony, attended by the Chief Constable, family of the deceased and other dignitaries, was orchestrated by the Police Memorial Trust, a charity founded by the late film producer Michael Winner.

The trust has honoured 61 fallen officers who made the ultimate sacrifice and were killed on duty. James O’Donnell was the bravest of men and surely ideal material for a movie himself.

A Lance Corporal in the Irish Guards in the Second World War he was shot and seriously wounded by the Germans in Holland whilst enabling the Dutch Royal Family to escape to Dover.

He received the Military Medal for his actions but was subsequently captured and whilst confined by the Gestapo in various prison camps he made no less than nine unsuccessful escape attempts before finally escaping and rejoining the British troops.

After the war he rejoined Blackburn Borough Police.

In recent times when the trust in our police has plunged to an all time low undermined and eroded in part by the grotesque murder of Sarah Everard, we should never lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of coppers are brave and willing to give their lives on a daily basis in the service and protection of their communities.

RIP James O’Donnell.

Retired Det Insp Jim Oldcorn