Retired Chief Special Constable donates commemorative artwork to Sussex Police
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In 1968, Beryl Saunders started her journey within the Sussex Police Special Constabulary with an aim to positively impact the local community.
She selflessly worked towards this goal, volunteering for 16 and a half years until her retirement in 1985.
Outside of the police, Beryl worked as a solicitor’s legal executive. She balanced a busy workload while also undertaking her duties as a Special Constable.
Now in her 90s, Beryl has donated a commemorative piece of artwork to the force.
The artwork celebrates an incredible milestone for the Special Constabulary, which turned 150 years old during Beryl’s service.
This cherished gift is gratefully accepted, and it will become a proudly displayed piece of memorabilia for years to come.
Sussex Police artwork gifted from Beryl Saunders.
The Special Constabulary plays a fundamental role within policing and offers support to many departments across the force.
Special Constables have the same powers and uniform as regular officers, but give up their spare time to help protect the public.
They work closely with police officers, often alongside the Neighbourhood Policing Team who play an important part in keeping our communities safe.
After training, Beryl was posted to Hailsham where she stayed throughout her time with Sussex Police.
She could always be seen proudly wearing her uniform, which at the time was finished with police issued white gloves and a handbag.
Beryl found herself undertaking a wide variety of tasks and accepted whatever challenges were sent her way.
She recalls assisting with a range of vibrant community events as well as playing a key role in enhancing road safety on the A22. Alongside this, she also helped the local custody run smoothly by offering search and clerical support.
A newspaper cutting showing Beryl Saunders working on the switchboards.
Seen as a reliable and hardworking member of the constabulary, Beryl was the perfect candidate to lead a team.
She was promoted to Section Officer in 1971, and then again in 1979 when she became Chief of the Special Constabulary for the local area.
This promotion made her responsible for the performance of up to 30 Special Constables, as well as ensuring their training, behaviour and presentation was up to scratch.
Upon her promotion in 1979, Beryl was approached by a local newspaper to celebrate this tremendous achievement.
She is quoted as saying: "I wanted to join an organisation where I could do something good for the community. I really enjoy the work".
She goes on to take pride in her new promotion and says: "I think it is an achievement as there are only a few other women who hold the post".
Her accomplishments are also recognised by Hailsham Police Chief at the time, Alf Brett, who says: "It certainly is an achievement".
Beryl Saunders at her desk.
After taking the lead of the Special Constabulary in Hailsham, Beryl witnessed a historic moment in policing.
Due to a change in policy, Special Constables were given access to drive police cars, something which is standard practice today.
Beryl Saunders and Special Sergeant Paul Nash after a tour of the features on a modern police car.
Beryl spent six years in her leading role before her retirement in 1985. She received a warm send-off with lots of cake and gifts as well as personalised items from the force to commemorate her time in service.
A personalised plaque from Beryl’s collection.
Chief Superintendent Rachel Carr, force lead for the Special Constabulary said: "We are so proud to have had Beryl work with us at Sussex Police.
"It is clear that she has been an asset to the force, shown in her commitment to Special Constable duties and in her clear goal of improving public safety.
"Her promotions were a testament to her character, and we are very grateful for the 16 and a half years that she was part of the constabulary.
"We thank you, Beryl, for all your hard work and time that you invested over your long service with us.”
Beryl Saunders holding her donated artwork, photographed with Operational Head of the Special Constabulary, Ryan Seibel and Special Sergeant, Paul Nash.
On August 19, the Operational Head of the Special Constabulary, Ryan Seibel and Special Sergeant, Paul Nash had the privilege of learning all about Beryl’s journey within Sussex Police.
They exchanged stories and Beryl reminisced on the past, showing the officers her collection of memorabilia and photographs.
The images showed Beryl undertaking a range of duties, painting a vibrant picture of her significant and unforgettable role that she played in policing.