Riding out for the last time, Road Safety Sergeant Rob Heard had the honour of spending his final moments as a Hampshire officer commemorating our veterans alongside Royals and dignitaries.
Sgt Heard led Her Majesty The Queen as part of the Special Escort Group for the 75th D-Day Commemoration in Southsea on 5 June. The large-scale event saw heads of state, including US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, visit Southsea to pay respect to those who died fighting on Normandy beach 75 years ago.
Beginning his career in 1989, Sgt Heard spent four years posted at Andover Police Station before hopping in the saddle as a motorcyclist for Winchester traffic – a job he had always dreamed of taking after becoming hooked on the American TV series ‘CHIPS’.
Life on the road has taken him overseas, as well as enabling him to provide policing support for VIP visits, including escorting former US President Bill Clinton who came to the UK for the 50th D-Day commemoration.
In 2012, Sgt Heard also policed the Olympics in London as well as the Olympic Torch routes in Hampshire and the Thames Valley, for which he was awarded the Chief Constable’s Congratulations.
But among the glitz and glamour, he has come face to face with tragedy on our roads as a road death investigation sergeant.
In 2011 Sgt Heard investigated a crash in which an 89-year-old driver, who was blind in one eye, drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway for a mile and killed another driver.
This prompted him to set up the now nationally-recognised Older Drivers Forum which gives help, safety advice and support to older drivers, as well as giving advice to concerned family and friends and medical practitioners.
Looking forward to his retirement, Sgt Heard said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my career in the Police, which has been varied and at times challenging. I am proud to have been part of such a dedicated and hardworking organisation.
“It is an honour for me to be able to pay tribute to those who gave everything to keep our country safe many years ago once more before I bid farewell to Hampshire Constabulary.
“Being part of the commemoration in Portsmouth alongside the veterans and special guests, and being involved in the plan to keep them all safe, has been incredibly rewarding for me and will no doubt stick with me as I venture into retirement.
“Making the roads safer for all is something I am deeply passionate about, and I hope to continue working in this field after I have retired. I have witnessed the terrible effects road traffic collisions can have on families, friends, colleagues and even officers and staff involved in dealing with these incidents.
“We all need to make conscious decisions to be safer road users to see a reduction in these incidents in the future.”