Pc Nicola Hughes Funeral: Thousands Gather In Manchester To Remember Fallen Officer (PICTURES)

Thousands Gather In Manchester For Pc Nicola Hughes' Funeral

Thousands of police officers from across the country gathered today in memory of a policewoman killed in a gun and grenade attack.

All bowed their heads solemnly when the funeral cortege for Pc Nicola Hughes, 23, passed as they lined the procession route through an eerily quiet Manchester city centre.

They were joined in Deansgate by hundreds of members of the public who heeded a call from Greater Manchester Police for "decent people" to stand shoulder by shoulder with the force in tribute to Pc Hughes and her colleague, Pc Fiona Bone, 32.

The coffin of Pc Hughes is carried into Manchester Cathedral

Office workers left their desks, shops emptied and building sites fell silent in a public show of respect.

Both officers were lured to their deaths by what appeared to be a routine burglary call to a house in Hattersley, Tameside, on September 18.

Police motorcycle outriders provided a guard of honour ahead of the cortege, led by the funeral carriage pulled by six horses from GMP's mounted unit and bearing the coffin, shrouded in black cloth.

Pc Nicola Hughes was killed in a gun and grenade attack

Pc Hughes, from Oldham, joined GMP in 2009. Her family said she wanted to make a difference and was doing a job she loved.

Fellow officers described her as a chatterbox, always smiling, with a bubbly, infectious personality.

Officers from forces nationwide volunteered to cover the shifts of GMP colleagues so they could attend the service at Manchester Cathedral, with most of them lining the funeral procession route.

Thousands of police officers paid their respects on Wednesday to their fallen colleagues

Several chief constables and senior officers from forces across England and Wales were expected to be among the 1,000 mourners inside the cathedral along with Pc Hughes's family and friends, and fellow officers from the Tameside division.

A big screen was relaying the funeral at the rear of the cathedral for hundreds more gathered outside.

The funeral of Pc Bone will take place at the same venue tomorrow.

The six officers on horseback formed a guard of honour as the hearse arrived at the cathedral entrance.

Spontaneous applause came from the crowd as the procession went along Deansgate until chimes began to sound from the cathedral as mourners observed a 15-minute silence.

The family of Pc Hughes entered the cathedral including her mother, Susan, father, Bryn, and younger brother, Sam.

GMP officers acted as pallbearers with Pc Hughes's police hat on top of the coffin which was led in to Pie Jesu sung by the cathedral choir.

As the service began, hundreds of people and police formed a wide arc to gather around the big screen outside to watch the service.

Some mourners - members of the public and police - wiped away silent tears as the hymns were sung and poignant poems read.

A full-size photograph of Pc Hughes was mounted at the front of the church.

The congregation sang the hymns The Lord's My Shepherd and In Heavenly Love Abiding.

Colleagues of Pc Hughes gave poetry and Bible readings.

Sergeant Stephen Lovatt read Death Is Nothing At All, Inspector Jane Brown read Don't Let Your Hearts Be Troubled and Sergeant Gordon Swan read Feel No Guilt In Laughter.

Police chaplain Keith Stewart said Pc Hughes was born at the Royal Oldham Hospital in 1988, attended Saddleworth High School and went on to study at Huddersfield University before joining the police.

He asked mourners to "remember a vibrant young woman" who was a green belt in karate but also enjoyed looking after her nails and hair and who still had "something of the little girl about her".

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Sir Peter Fahy spoke of Pc Hughes being "incredibly mature" despite her young years.

He said her family had spoken of the proud moment when every new officer brings home their uniform for the first time.

"They (officers) wonder will you be able to fill those boots," he said. "In Nicola's case, there was never any doubt.

"She decided not to be a bystander."

He added: "Nicola and Fiona knew that the police service has the same expectations of female officers as male officers.

"Nicola, like Fiona, had many of the qualities we see in our young police officers and many young people."

He said Pc Hughes signed knowing she would put herself in danger and that an unarmed police force was not a "tactical option" but that it was "central to our commitment to minimum force".

She died from "her own devotion to others".

"Nicola, in her dedication and professionalism, in the way she carried out her duties, showed that policing is not about muscle but reason, restraint and intelligence.

"Her family were so proud of Nicola. She was a fighter."

He said every photograph of her reflected her warm smile.

He said: "She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.

"We will never forget her great sacrifice."

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