Memorial service to be held for Sergeant Matt Ratana

A memorial service for former officer Matt Ratana will take place in central London today (November 29)

Nov 29, 2021
By Tony Thompson
Sergeant Matt Ratana

The event is to pay tribute to the custody sergeant who was murdered while on duty on September 25, 2020. It takes the place of the full force funeral that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was unable to hold following the fatal shooting due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Sgt Ratana was survived by partner Su Bushby and his adult son, a police office in Australia.

The specially invited guests will attend the Royal Military Chapel, Westminster, also known as the Guards Chapel – while police officers wearing dress uniform will flank both sides of Horseguards and Birdcage Walk in the vicinity.

Colleagues from many teams across the MPS, including the dog unit, mounted branch, and Croydon borough will be present within and outside of the chapel.

MPS Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick will walk with Ms Bushby and other specially invited guests from the National Police Memorial on the Mall to the chapel, passing the specially selected ‘Guard of Honour’ just outside its entrance.

This will be made up of Sgt Ratana’s fellow sergeants from MPS Detention and Croydon borough – his last posting in what was a distinguished 29-year-long career in the force.

Also stationed outside the chapel will be the quintet of pups that make up the “Ratana Litter” with their officer handlers, as well as two officers from the mounted branch.

Seven pups were originally named in Sgt Ratana’s honour by Ms Bushby on a visit to the MPS’s Dog Training Establishment at Keston, of which five were deemed suitable for the 12-month national training course they are currently undertaking.

The mounted branch officers will be Police Constable Chris Bruce and Police Constable Liz Keyle who worked with Sgt Ratana during his time in the Territorial Support Group.

Inside the chapel, Reverend Prebendary Jonathon Osborne, MPS Senior Chaplain, will lead the hour-long service, which will include a variety of hymns, readings and tributes, including from those representing Sgt Ratana’s different passions outside of policing – rugby and motor biking. In addition, a Maori hymn will be sung by Ngati Ranana – a New Zealand cultural group.

The service will include the Colour Party comprising Sgt Ratana’s friends and colleagues, Acting Commander Karen Findlay – head of the MPS’s Taskforce – Sergeant Martin Christianson from MPS Command and Control and Sergeant Tom Haji-Savva from Croydon borough. In addition a Bugler will play the last post at the close of the service.

The colour bears the ‘service crest’ and is primarily used at ceremonial events and Passing Out parades. The MPS was issued with a new Colour in 2015; this was blessed by Reverend Prebendary Jonathan Osborne. The formal handing over of a hat and gloves to his partner will also take place inside the chapel.

Dame Cressida said:“When Matt was sadly taken away from us Covid-19 meant we weren’t able to mark his death with a force funeral in the way that we would have wished to afterwards.

“We promised at the time that when restrictions weren’t in place we would arrange a special memorial service that would allow us all to come together in Matt’s memory, and I am delighted that today, we can finally honour that promise by gathering to pay him tribute.

“Matt has very much been in our thoughts over the last year, both as we grieved for him, but also as we planned for this very special day where we will remember and give thanks for his life. There will be sadness and reflection of course, but also celebration and much joy, for all the many lives he touched and the positivity and dedication with which he served.

“As with all our fallen colleagues, we will never forget Matt and we will continue to honour his legacy, which will live on through his family, his many friends and colleagues in the Met, in his rugby foundation and beyond.”

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