Norfolk Police launches Help for Heroes fundraiser

Police officers in Norfolk have shown their charitable side after becoming the pioneers of a campaign to give away an hour of their pay to help wounded soldiers.

Officers and staff at Norfolk Police gathered for the official launch of the initiative today that aims to raise �1m for Help for Heroes across the country.

Around 200 members of the county's police force have already signed up to the 'give an hour, help a hero' payroll scheme and Norfolk's deputy chief constable urged others to follow in their footsteps.

Bosses at Norfolk Police spoke of their pride at being the first force in the country to get involved in one of their most challenging assignments - 'Operation Raise a �million'.

Deputy Chief Constable Simon Bailey said many members of the force had a connection with the army, navy and RAF and �1m would go a long way to helping injured service personnel.

Each one of the 3,000 officers and staff at Norfolk Police are being asked to fill in a payroll slip to give an hour of their wages to Help for Heroes.

'During the last four years, 14,000 of our personnel have been injured and that is 14,000 people that Help for Heroes has been able to help.'

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'It is tough for us all in the current economic climate, but an hour for a good cause is not too much to ask. It is an incredibly special cause and makes a difference to a significant amount of people,' he said.

Norfolk Police first began its fundraising for the charity under former chief constable Ian McPherson and more than �100,000 has already been raised through the sales of Help for Heroes pin badges.

The force is also selling police and military-themed teddy bears that have been made by Norfolk interior designer Christopher Welch.

Katie Wilson, eastern region coordinator for Help for Heroes, praised the work of the police, which will help fund its support for injured soldiers and go towards an appeal for a new one-stop-welfare-shop near the charity's headquarters at Tidworth, Hampshire. She added that although the charity has raised more than �93m for injured servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan since 2007, �88m had already been spent or been allocated.

'We still need to be in a position to give them the support they deserve in 20 years time and that is why your support is needed. Operation Raise a �million is a phenomenal achievement,' she said.

The national campaign has already received celebrity backing from actor Graham Cole, who played PC Tony Stamp in the television series The Bill.

Norfolk police PC Stephen Smith, a former RAF police dog handler, has already signed up to the 'give an hour, help a hero' scheme. He underwent treatment at Headley Court military hospital, in Surrey, after suffering a knee injury in 1992 where he shared a room with other injured service personnel.

'In that time there was no Help for Heroes, but having seen where it has come from and why it has developed, I fully support what it does and to give an hour of my pay is time well spent. Giving up an hour's pay is nothing compared to losing a limb or suffering a lifetime of post traumatic stress disorder,' he said.

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