History of the Trust
The Police Memorial Trust was formed on the 3rd May, 1984 by Film Producer Michael Winner. Its formation was almost accidental. Deeply moved by the death of police officer Yvonne Fletcher in St. James’s Square, Michael Winner wrote a letter to The Times that was published on 21 st April, 1984, suggesting that a memorial be erected.
“It would serve to indicate that not everyone in this country takes seeming pleasure in attacking the Police in the execution of their difficult duties, but that most of us regard their conduct and bravery, under a whole series of endless and varied provocations, as demonstrably noble and worthy of our thanks”, he wrote.
When the letter was printed Mr Winner received donations from the public together with a large number of letters approving of his sentiments. A few days later, on the 27th April, at the invitation of Sir David English, the Editor of the Daily Mail, Michael Winner wrote a long article in that paper on the day of Yvonne’s funeral. The article finished with the words: –
“I can see a day in the future when human memory, being what it is, has discarded the events that now seem so important, and the shadows from the trees above sway slowly to and fro on the pavement of St James’s Square, the sunlight catching a small Memorial.
“Maybe two people passing by will stop and one will say to the other – “Yvonne Fletcher? Who was she?” “To which there is a simple and noble answer: She was a member of the British Police Force.”
Some further donations were sent to Mr Winner and he realised he had reached the point where he had to do something more than just writing about what he thought should be done. So the Police Memorial Trust was formed. Its aims were to erect Memorials to Police Officers killed in the course of their hazardous duty, usually on the spot where they met their death. This new idea attracted considerable attention with donations pouring in from ordinary people, from members of the Cabinet, MPs. members of the House of Lords, film stars, institutions and many of the biggest businesses in the land.
The Trust had its first memorial to Yvonne Fletcher unveiled in St. James’s Square on 1st February 1985. In a rare display of political solidarity the leaders of all the main political parties attended the unveiling, which was performed by the Prime Minister, Mrs Margaret Thatcher. The Westminster Council adapted St. James’s Square to take the Memorial, placing a rounded area of pavement in front of it extending into the roadway making an architectural feature, the centre of which was the granite and Portland stone Memorial. The public showed their appreciation of this recognition of Police bravery by attending the Ceremony in their hundreds and by placing flowers at the Memorial every day since it was unveiled.