December 11 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Tributes have been paid to William ‘Paddy’ O’Brien, the much-loved and highly-respected popular last mounted policeman in Norwich, who has died at the age of 92.
“Paddy has his place in history. The last of the horsemen. A police officer who got on well with his colleagues and was part of city life for so long,” said former head of Norfolk CID, Maurice Morson.
“He was a genial character and a familiar sight at civic occasions and other events in Norwich. Paddy was one of the old school and he will be missed,” said Maurice, the author of A Force Remembered, The Illustrated History of the Norwich City Police from 1836 to 1967.
On one memorable occasion in the mid-1950s the famous Mounties, the Canadian Mounted Police, arrived at Thorpe Station to put on a display at the Royal Norfolk Show, and Paddy was there on his horse to escort them through the city and along Dereham Road to the showground.
After the city and county police forces were amalgamated at the end of 1967 Paddy became one of the first neighbourhood PCs in Norwich. His beat was West Earlham where most people knew him. He was a prime example of community policing. At times of trouble he was the man the people went to see.
William Desmond O’Brien was born in India in 1921, Aged 15 he joined the Army and the Royal Artillery where he was taught to ride a horse. He first came to Norfolk during the Second World War and he was a member of the famous Eighth Army.
His grand-daughter Sharon Feek explained that during the war he met the love of his life, Violet, when she was in the Land Army at East Rudham.
“While in the Crown public house one evening he asked her if he could walk her home. She said no but then she changed her mind and ran after him,” said Sharon.
They were married in 1944 and moved to Norwich. He joined the city police force in 1948. They lived at Cunningham Road in West Earlham where they raised their family of three sons. William, now deceased, Robin and Kerry.
Because of his riding skills he was chosen to be a mounted policeman and his duties included leading the grand civic coach on special occasions.
Away from work he was also a skilled sportsman playing snooker, football and cricket for the police force. He scored several centuries at the old Lakenham ground and he had also played for the Army against the Minor Counties.
After retiring from the police force in 1973 he went on to become the commissionaire at the Mackintosh/Rowntree/Nestle factory in the city until he retired in 1986.
He leaves his wife Violet. They had been married for 69 years.
“We are all very proud of him and miss him very much. We would like to thank everyone who attended his funeral at Holy Apostles Church in West Earlham,” said grand-daughter Sharon.