An Avon and Somerset Police officer who lost his wife, a fellow officer, said that The Gurney Fund had been “a massive help” to his family and had allowed his children to lead a normal life.
PC Ben Blackmore, who works in neighbourhood policing in Bristol, began his career with Thames Valley Police before moving to Avon and Somerset 16 years ago with his wife Gabby, also a police officer.
He said: “When I joined Avon and Somerset Police I found out about The Gurney Fund and started paying into it. We all know life can be a rollercoaster, and if you find yourself in a situation where you need that help – especially as this job can be very stressful at times – it takes a bit of pressure off people.”
Sadly, Ben needed The Gurney Fund’s support in 2014 when Gabby died of cancer. The couple had two small children; the youngest was only one year old at the time.
Ben said: “It was a tough time. There were lots of big decisions to make. I wanted to make life as stable for the children as possible, but going from two salaries down to one salary, things began to be a struggle.
“The force put me in touch with The Gurney Fund and I started to get a quarterly amount of money towards helping with the children, their wellbeing and their education. Also, if a trip comes up at school or an unexpected expense for IT equipment, I can contact The Gurney Fund and they’ll put it to the Trustees to see if they can help.
“At the start, the money helped with childcare, so that I could return to work. There were certain points where I was thinking I would have to stop working. There was no support around to help with childcare, so that was very important.
“It took the pressure off me financially so I could concentrate on being a dad and going through the grieving process with the children, rather than being worried about losing the house or not being able to provide for the children. It’s been a massive help to us.”
Ben’s message to colleagues thinking of paying into The Gurney Fund is: “It’s absolutely worthwhile. You never want to be in the worst situation, but you may find yourself there. When you’re in that deep hole, for people to put their heads up above the parapet and say, ‘We can help with this if you like’, it’s basically what we do as a police force day in and day out, and it’s nice that people have done it for us.
“I’m so grateful to those who pay in. I didn’t foresee myself being in this situation, but we are where we are. The Gurney Fund has enabled my two children to live a normal life, as much as possible. We’ve not had to move into a different area. Their schooling stayed the same, their friends stayed the same, even something as minor as they can go to bed in the same house where their mum lived. It seems very minor, but it was massively important, and still is, to them.”
Ben’s daughter is now 16 and has just finished GCSEs, and his son is starting secondary school. Ben said: “They are my biggest achievement. My children and being a police officer are the two things I’m known for and I’m immensely proud of that.
He added: “I want to give my sincere thanks to everybody who contributes to The Gurney Fund. Life was tough. It would have been unmanageable without them.”