HAVING spent 27 years as a police officer and with a keen interest in history, it was perhaps only natural that upon his retirement from the force, Stephen Wilson should research and write a book telling the stories of all the officers to have been awarded gallantry medals in Lancashire.

“I just felt that it was right that people got to know more about these officers,” said Stephen, “in terms of who they were and why they received their awards.”

Here he tells the story of a dramatic rescue at Doffcocker Lodge

ON January 5, 1968 – a cold, icy winter day – Bolton Borough Police received a 999 call stating that an elderly man had been seen entering the water and swimming in Doffcocker Lodge.

Constable Keith Park and Sergeant Donald Thomas Taylor arrived at the scene and swam out to the 60-year-old man in the icy lodge, who was 200 metres from the bank.

As they reached him, Constable Park was affected by the cold and got into difficulties. In the meantime, other officers had arrived and PC James Sharpe swam out with a rescue line while PC Haydn Mathews waded in, holding the end of the line.

PC Sharpe brought PC Park to the bank and then swam back out to assist Sergeant Taylor with the man. Two youths were also praised by the police for wading into the lodge to assist the men out.

The ambulance service attended and the elderly man and Sergeant Taylor, PCs Park and Sharpe were all taken to hospital receiving treatment for exposure.

The elderly man was detained at hospital and after treatment the police officers were released.

Following the incident Sergeant Taylor and PC Park were awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct by Lord Derby at Knowsley Hall on July 5, 1968.

For their part in the rescue PC’s James Sharpe and Haydn Mathews were awarded Testimonials by the Royal Humane Society. PC Laurence Whitehead who also assisted and all the other officers were commended by the Chief Constable and the Watch Committee.

Commenting on the award, Sergeant Taylor said: “It’s an award for the whole team. If it hadn’t been for PC Sharpe neither of us would be here now.”

PC Park said: “It’s all in the line of duty. To go in was an awkward decision. Self-preservation seems to lose itself after that.”

Sergeant Donald Thomas Taylor served with three Police forces during his career. Born in Warrington in 1921 he joined Lancashire Constabulary in October 1951.

He had also served in the Royal Artillery from January 1939 to March 1946. He served at Bolton Division and in 1964, he transferred to Bolton Borough Police and was appointed Sergeant in 1967.

Bolton Borough Police was amalgamated with Lancashire Constabulary in 1969 and in 1974 following reorganisation, he was transferred to Manchester Police.

Constable Keith Park, joined Bolton Borough Police in 1965. He left in 1969.

Forgotten Heroes: A Record of Police Gallantry Awards in the Lancashire County Palatine by Stephen Wilson. Available from enquiries@forgotten-heroes.uk