June is Father’s Day but it’s not only dads who go above and beyond for their families. Meet Tim Clements, a loving grandad who decided to help his grandson gain confidence by recounting his own incredible life story as a Kent policeman in a riveting new book…

There are many reasons to write a book- money, glory, personal satisfaction, but for Tim Clements the reason was far closer to home.

When Tim, 80, realised his grandson was having trouble with bullies at school he was galvanised into action. He decided to write his memoir as a personal tribute to his grandson, Tom.

The resulting product is A Grandad’s Story of his 30 Years in the Kent County Constabulary- a book which charts Tim’s 30 years working as a policeman in Kent dealing with everything from thefts and domestic incidents to armed robberies and murders (as well as some peculiar ‘crimes’ involving ‘ghosts’, ‘witches’ and a naked female escort!)

Tim delivers a raw account of the highs and lows of his career and shares advice for Tom through recalling his own similar troubles as a youngster.

'At secondary school I was occasionally bullied and had to learn the hard way to toughen up,' said Tim.

Tim Clements during his careerTim Clements during his career (Image: Courtesy of Tim Clements)

The path to plodding the beat wasn’t written in the stars for Tim, who grew up in Gillingham with parents who were loving, but who ‘smoked so many cigarettes they could never afford a house, a car or a holiday’.

Tim wanted to be an electrician in the Royal Air Force after leaving school, but a medical examination put pay to his dreams of joining up.

'I was rejected on medical grounds as I was partially colour blind (something that came as a complete shock to me) and even worse, I was deaf in my left ear.'

It turned out Tim had a small hole in his eardrum and would never be allowed to fly due to the way aircraft are pressurised.

Disappointed but undeterred Tim went in a new direction and in 1960 he embarked on a five-year apprenticeship in Chatham Dock as a fitter and turner. He later became a skipper at the dockyard working on maintaining pumps.

Tim loved his time working in the dockyard and learnt skills that would stand him in good stead in his later career.

Tim (third row, second right) with his 1966 graduating classTim (third row, second right) with his 1966 graduating class (Image: Courtesy of Tim Clements)

'This time in my life taught me a lot, especially understanding other people’s points of view. This was good experience for when I joined the police. I had experience of the outside world which I would have been lacking if I’d gone in straight from school.'

Tim happened to have an uncle who was chaplain to both the Queen and to the City of London Police Force. His uncle had taken Tim to Bishopsgate Police Station a few times and it was during those visits that Tim realised he was interested in joining up himself.

'On one visit to Bishopsgate I had dinner with the superintendent and his son followed by a session in the basement shooting range- great fun! It was this connection that led me to the idea of joining Kent Police.'

So, Tim, now aged 22 and still living in Gillingham, applied to the Kent Constabulary. The entrance exam and the interview were the easy parts. Once it got to the more in-depth interview stages, Tim didn’t exactly create an ideal first impression.

One interviewer wrote of Tim: 'I was prepared to write off Clements but after speaking to him several times I think he’s worth an interview.' Ouch!

Tim Clements helps clear heavy snowTim Clements helps clear heavy snow (Image: Courtesy of Tim Clements)

Another noted: 'I thought Clements was rather thick and that he would not stand a chance, but he is brighter than his appearance led me to believe.'

Tim made it passed the recruitment stage and began his police training in Sandgate, Kent.

The training period was full of colourful characters and a time spent making long lasting friendships. Some of the banter that went on? Well, we can only imagine what would happen in this day and age?

But as Tim stresses, 'that was a completely different time. If I applied now, I’d probably have no chance in even passing the entrance exams, not that I would want to be a police officer now. The job has changed too much.'

Tim paints a picture in the book of ‘police academy’ style fun with jokes and tricks an everyday occurrence: 'One classmate came from Guernsey and he couldn’t get a decent shine on his boots so he asked an ex-military lad in our group how to do it,' he recalls. 'The next thing we knew he was rubbing sandpaper over them. It took him ages to get the scratches out!

Other jokes involved breaking up biscuits to put between someone’s sheets and removing spring bases from beds.

Trips to different parts of the county were frequent. The trainee PCs were bussed to the open-air pool in Folkstone for lessons in life saving. Conscious of concealing his ear problems, Tim spent every session in the pool never putting his head under water.

Tim (right) with replacement PC Paul Brown  (Image: Courtesy of Tim Clements)

'Amazingly nobody seemed to notice,' he said. 'In my 30 years of service in the force none of my colleagues knew I was deaf in my left ear. The only problem I had with my hearing was in crowded rooms or when talking to groups of people in vehicles. I often had to ask someone to repeat what they said and I’d get the reply, ‘are you deaf’? They thought I was joking when I replied ‘yes’.'

After making it through training, an eager and newly qualified PC Tim Clements reported for duty in August of 1966 at Tonbridge Police Station.

In the book Tim recalls: 'Being the new boy meant I had to endure an initiation ceremony. Part of the night foot patrol was through two churchyards. At one, a ghost (a colleague covered with a white sheet) jumped out in front of me from behind a gravestone. Another time it was the eerie sound of moaning coming from the same area.

'Needless to say, it wasn’t very frightening!'

It wasn’t just the boys who got the initiation antics: 'We had a female officer who was sent into the grounds of Knole House where suspicious lights had been spotted. She came across a ‘witches’ coven takin place with various witches dancing around a circle of candles. She got a report out then ran. She went onto make a very good police officer.'

In 1985 Tim became the village bobby for Otford. For the job, he had to learn to ride a motorcycle- something that didn’t come naturally to him, with all sorts of accidents and mishaps detailed in the book.

Later he was given a Ford Fiesta van to patrol the village. Tim’s wife Eunice was always by his side as he became known and respected as the village bobby. The couple had met when Tim had gone into a shoe shop in Gillingham, where Eunice was the manager, to buy some boots for work. It was love at first sight and the pair wed in 1970.

'My dear wife Eunice was always there to support me particularly after dealing with sad cases,' said Tim. 'When I was on patrol, she was my unpaid secretary, answering the phone and dealing with callers at the door. Without her support I could not have done my job.'

He continued: 'My village bobby role impacted on my children Graham and Shirley. They suffered some abuse from other youths, yet they never told me as they knew I would try to do something about it, they just coped and I am so grateful for that.'

You’d think village life would be quiet when it came to crime, but often it was more like an episode of Midsommer Murders for Tim.

A Grandad’s Story of his 30 Years in the Kent County Constabulary by Tim Clements  (Image: Courtesy of Tim Clements)

Over the next 20 odd years he’d deal with every type of crime you could imagine- including some pretty weird ones.

In the book he describes the numerous domestic incidents.

One time he was called out to reports of a naked woman in a dress shop. Turns out the woman was a high-class escort who had been at a gentleman’s party but had left in a hurry. The woman got a taxi to the nearest dress shop and was attempting to buy something to cover her modesty when the cops arrived.

Tim would sometimes have to do some escorting of his own- taking prisoners on the train from Tonbridge Station to the court in Canterbury. The prisoners had to be handcuffed to Tim for the entire journey.


'I’d get a few funny looks from other passengers. I’d drape a coat or something over the handcuffs to hide them from the public. It still looked very odd though. The biggest problem was when the prisoner wanted to go to the toilet. It was a disciplinary offence to lose a prisoner so I couldn’t undo the cuffs. I would take the prisoner to the cubicle and put my arm through the partly opened door as he urinated.'

Dealing with armed assailants was another part of the job. One time Tim had to fight off an axe wielding man who had threatened his wife, with the only weapons that came to hand- a shovel and a fire extinguisher.

He said: 'In those days we had no pepper sprays or taser guns, we just had to use our initiative.'

Dealing with death is an everyday occurrence in the force, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

Tim was frequently called to road accidents which, before the days of compulsory seat belts, could result in motorists suffering horrific injuries. Tim also found himself having to do the unthinkable sometimes including walking along railway lines collecting body parts following suicides.

When two teenagers died while canoeing on the River Medway near Leigh, it brought terrible memories flooding back for Tim.

'Having to deal with two sets of grieving parents was so difficult and brought memories of when I was young and two of my friends had been canoeing on the River Medway in Gillingham when their boat capsized.

'Sometimes the shock of being told a relative has died makes a person do strange things,' he recalls. 'I have been attacked by people who just didn’t want to believe what I’d told them, while others have just passed out.'

It wasn’t just the deaths of people that Tim had to cope with, but animals too.

One of the worst incidents of animal cruelty he was involved with was when an arsonist set fire to a stable block near Sevenoaks, killing 11 horses. The culprit was arrested at the scene because, sickeningly, he had hung around to watch his cruelty unfold.

It’s a miracle that Tim was never seriously hurt during his 30-year career on the force, though he did suffer countless scrapes, bruises, and mental anguish.

One time he was hurt after being hit by a car directing traffic at a junction. Headbutted, bounced around in high-speed car chases, being a passenger in a police car when the brakes failed and even lifted off his feet and thrown the length of a playground during the infamous 1987 hurricane, were all par for the course.

Tim’s book shows us the best in humanity and the worst. One story where he tells how he found a baby left alone in a car on a sweltering day and had to smash the windows to rescue the tot, is an example of the latter.

'When the parents finally returned, (the father was a barrister!) they were irate that I’d smashed the window and screamed how they were going to sue me. I pointed out how they were welcome to do that and I’d charge them with child neglect. They didn’t take it further of course.'

Tim’s grandson has gained a lot from the book, and it has given him plenty of heartfelt advice for the future.

Dedicating the book to his grandson, Tim explains: 'I hope that in the years to come, whether I am alive or not you will be able to say to your family or friends ‘my grandad inspired me to be better than him and I think I have succeeded.''

Tim retired from Kent Constabulary in 1996. He and Eunice moved from Otford to Debenham in Suffolk in 2008 to be near their daughter. As well as writing the book and reminiscing on his time as a policeman, Tim spends his days engaged with his other passion- woodturning. He makes wooden artefacts and donates them to local hospices to sell for charity.

A Grandad’s Story of his 30 Years in the Kent County Constabulary by Tim Clements is available on Amazon and Kindle.