How the family of PC Nicola Hughes aim to create a lasting legacy in her memory
- Credit: Archant
Saddleworth’s PC Nicola Hughes lost her life in an crime that shocked the nation. Now her proud father, Bryn Hughes, has set up a foundation in her name to help others whose lives have been shattered
‘It’s what Nicola would have wanted,’ says Bryn Hughes. ‘If she could help someone, she would. I am biased, but I think she was perfect.’ The young woman he is talking about was his daughter, police officer Nicola Hughes, whose murder shocked the nation.
The 23-year-old from Saddleworth was shot dead along with fellow officer Fiona Bone, 32, in 2012 after being lured into a trap by a notorious Manchester criminal.
Proud Bryn, a former prison guard, set up a charity, the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund, in 2014 to ensure his daughter’s name lived on. The fund helps young people under 21 who have suffered the loss of a close family member through violent crime.
‘Initially, we set it up to raise money for the three charities that helped us at the time of Nicola’s death,’ explains Bryn, 51, who has already raised £300,000 through various events, including a North Pole marathon and an inaugural black tie ball at Old Trafford last year.
‘Last October we managed to donate £100,000 to Victim Support, the North West Police Benevolent Fund and Care of Police Survivors. We have used the rest of the funds to put towards the aims of our charity.’
The memorial fund aims to provide learning opportunities and pre-employment skills for children in the form of support through grants or services.
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‘Most domestic murders involve a family situation with children. We would like to help them to rebuild their lives and look towards the future,’ he says. ‘It would be great for them to be able to stand on their own feet by continuing with education or start that course which will enable them to gain employment.’
Bryn wants to help by providing small, practical things that will make a big difference such as purchasing a child’s school uniform or providing them with a laptop. He also wants to get businesses involved to offer a child the opportunity of an apprenticeship or placement scheme.
‘Some people don’t like receiving hand-outs,’ he admits. ‘But if it’s something like a job or an apprenticeship, they’re working towards things for themselves and they are gaining the confidence, self-esteem and skills to build them back to feeling like a normal person. We want them to moan about having to get up early on a Monday morning instead of focusing on the negative aspects of what has happened in their lives.’
For Bryn’s own family, being involved with the memorial fund has helped them to start to deal with the horrific event that changed their lives. His son, Sam, now works part-time at the charity and has received funding to pay him a wage.
‘It’s a reason to get up in the morning,’ said the 23-year-old, who lives in Oldham. ‘Since being involved it has given me a focus and is helping rebuild my life after it was shattered. If I can help one kid through something then that’s enough.’
Bryn adds: ‘Doing this has helped me to cope. I couldn’t do my job in the prison service, so I would just be sitting at home all day thinking about things. Your mind just wanders. I can’t watch television anymore because a lot of the programmes are about crime and murder.’
Nicola wanted to be in the forces or the police from an early age and despite the family’s unimaginable loss, Bryn knew that Nicola enjoyed her job. It was what she loved to do – apart from the early shifts. ‘She didn’t like the morning shifts as they were often cold and wet!’
The PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund, of which actor Patrick Stewart is a patron, is now preparing for their second black tie ball, which will be held at Old Trafford on July 11. Tickets are £45 and the colour theme for this year’s ball will again be pink and yellow, Nicola’s two favourite colours.
‘Last year’s ball was brilliant,’ said events committee member Jayne Lloyd. The former Merseyside police officer from Rainford didn’t know Nicola or Bryn, but her death affected her so much she knew she had to do something to help. ‘There were 600 people there, including officers from police forces from across the UK.’
‘This year we want to focus on where the charity is now and what we have done. Through some of the funding, we have managed to train 92 volunteers for North West Victim Support, and they should be there on the night.’ w
To find out more about the fund and the ball go to www.pcnicolahughesmemorialfund.co.uk