Hi, my name is Rich Wearne or ‘Wearney’. I joined the Police at 40 having previously worked in the private sector for over 22 years. I spent 3 years on response working out of Camborne after which I moved to Helston (my home town) on the neighbourhood team covering the largest geographical area within the force. Neighbourhood has a tendency to turn into Groundhog Day about 3 years in. I needed a challenge, so at the age of 46 I passed the 10 week course and became a firearms officer! Within the role I specialised as a rifle officer after a course in Lancs in 2018.
I’d been surfing since I could drive my 1973 VW Beetle and the ocean has been a constant in my life having a mother who was and still is beach obsessed. I’m the eldest of 3 siblings and have been married for 33 years producing 3 mature children. Holidays always involved being near the sea.
In 2012 I hit my low point. At the time I was working on the neighbourhood team in Helston, a tight knit gang. One Sunday morning in October after a surf with my wife, I received a call from my sister to say that my dad had suddenly passed away - I needed to get there ASAP. It was at this point that, knowing what lay ahead, I put my police head back on and headed off to be with the family. I knew that when I arrived at my parent’s house that the police would be folks I knew. It must have been awkward for them too knowing me so well. I filled out the paperwork for them, and they were brilliant with the wider family.
Over the next 2 weeks I took on all the responsibility for funeral arrangements, etc. My mum was in shock – they’d been married for over 45 years. I just ploughed on through taking 2 weeks compassionate leave to sort things out. I didn’t have time to properly process my feelings.
I should say at this point that my dad was the most amazing bloke. He could turn his hand to anything and do it well. He was well loved and left a deep impression on everyone he met. He was my role model, and he loved his family intensely. However, he had suffered with heart issues since his mid 40’s and died peacefully aged 71 at home… how he’d have wanted it. I always thought he’d be there forever….until he wasn’t - and that shook me to the core, although I couldn’t show it.
I returned to work after 2 weeks and just tried getting on with it but looking back now I can see I was really grieving. Grief is a well-studied process which is never the same twice for anyone it seems. My process however stalled at anger. I was angry at everything and everyone although I didn’t outwardly show it. Or so I thought. This is where peer support comes in. I’d changed and it got noticed by my friends at work. In essence, they supported me and got me help after quite literally putting an arm around my shoulders. I was given some time to get see a counsellor through work which on reflection was mediocre, but it got me through the worst of it.
My dad is someone I think about daily without fail almost 11 years on, and I will continue to think about and make no apology for it as he is the person I still look up to and aspire to be like.
I also think about my colleagues who during that period, saw I wasn’t right, and did something about it for me because I couldn’t. That is true peer support and that is why I am so passionate about this programme and trying to give others the help that I was given.
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