Standing almost seven feet in his policeman’s helmet, and with a distinctive handlebar moustache, PC Colin Stroud provided an impressive and welcome sight in Dartford town centre.
The 44-year-old left a lasting impression among residents, retailers, councillors and community leaders – even criminals – as he patrolled the town, and in particular Temple Hill, for 17 years.
Sadly, the father-of-one has had to retire due to ill health but, in honour of his outstanding dedication to policing and the people of Dartford, the borough has paid its own mark of respect with a Blue Plaque bearing his name, rank and police number.
The unveiling ceremony at One Bell Corner was a surprise for PC Stroud, who is 6ft 5in and now bears a goatee beard in place of his moustache.
He said: “I just thought I was meeting a few of the old team. I wanted to see everyone and say goodbye.
“This is wonderful. Not only are my colleagues here, but the mayor, the leader of the council and shopkeepers from Temple Hill and Dartford.
“It is very sad I have had to leave because it was an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Dartford, in particular the people of Temple Hill, who were nice and genuine.
“There were naughty ones, to be sure, but we dealt with them! I really miss being here, putting my hat on and walking through the town and Temple Hill and speaking to everyone.”
The siting of the plaque at One Bell Corner was of particular significance for PC Stroud, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in September 2012 and then underwent surgery for a brain tumour in February this year before retiring in April. “Every day you had a policeman standing there directing traffic,” explained PC Stroud.
“This was before they built the ring road.
“If you stood there at night you could see all the way down the High street and along Spital Street.
“There used to be a tea bar and it’s where myself and the town centre warden would discuss our town centre meetings and would get a cup of tea.
“Being a policeman is being a part of the community. I was privileged that Kent Police gave me the opportunity to be a police officer and a part of this community. I miss it already.”
The former officer, who is due to start chemotherapy this week, made such a difference in his role with the community safety unit that he instigated the re-introduction of beat bobbies.
Dartford District Commander Ian Humpheryes, who took over the team in November last year, said: “Because of the impact he has had, one of the first things I did was get beat officers back.
“Our low crime levels are down to what he has done over the years as the beat officer and I know how well thought of he is. I get phone calls from residents about him all the time.”
Sgt Paul Squire described his colleague as a “unique” officer who had brought his own “human” traits to his work.
He said: “His methods were somewhat unorthodox and he didn’t always agree with policing law but he agreed with his community and did that with an absolute passion.
“I am deeply indebted to all that he has done and it gives me extreme pleasure to actually acknowledge this.”
Also at the ceremony were PC Stroud’s wife, Jenny, 37, six-year-old daughter Summer, and mother, Valerie Stroud, 70.
She said: “It has been wonderful when he has called on me and told me the stories.
“Colin has been so proud to serve the people of Dartford. It’s his life.”
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