As the wife of a serving police officer you understand the risks involved with your husband's job, but you have to convince yourself that the unthinkable "knock on the door" won't ever happen to you. On 29 November 1987 the unthinkable happened to our family.
My husband Colin was a police dog handler and served with West Midlands Police for 21 years; on the night in question he was dispatched with a number of his colleagues to deal with a disturbance.
Whilst we lay sleeping Col and his police dog Brett led the charge up to the 11th floor of a block of flats where lumps of concrete were being thrown from a balcony at officers below. Having performed his duty Col suffered a heart attack and died at the scene - he was 40 years old. At 24 I found myself a widow, and our 4 year old daughter Kelly lost her best friend in the world.
Col thought that if anything happened to him he would at the very least leave me with a lifelong widows' pension - he would be devastated to know that he was mistaken. Under the 1987 Police Pension Scheme police widows that remarry or move in with a partner have their pensions revoked.
In 2001 I was faced with an agonising decision to keep the pension that Col had worked so hard for, or move in with my partner of 7 years. Living apart from John was becoming intolerable, and though I could ill afford to lose the money - we moved in together. Our financial lives have been a roller coaster ride since then but we have been happy. Then, 2006 saw a change in the regulations for new entrants, and their survivors' pensions are bestowed for life - irrespective of whether they remarry or form a new relationship.
I decided to do something about this inequality and to campaign for lifelong pensions for all police widows and started a petition on Change.org.
During my research I discovered that in 2014 Northern Ireland had granted their 1988 RUC widows lifelong pensions and those that have had them revoked will have them reinstated. I decided that this was to be the cornerstone of my campaign as we can be compared with that group of ladies on a like-for-like basis.
I enlisted the help of NARPO and the Police Federation of England and Wales, and via the Change.org petition I have recruited supporters from the length and breadth of the country.
In February I attended an Adjournment Debate in Westminster Hall along with 30 supporters. The Policing Minister had challenged us to provide, "Clear and compelling argument," that the armed forces are not unique in the risks they face as a daily part of their jobs. During the debate it became clear that we had succeeded.
As a result of the evidence that we provided it was announced in the March 2015 Budget that the survivors of officers killed on duty would receive their pensions for life, and that this would also apply to the survivors of firefighters.
We have continued to campaign and the proposed changes have been extended to include the survivors of officers and firefighters that died on duty, and officers that were killed travelling to and from work. The Prime Minister says, "The change in policy will not apply to all survivors of those in the 1987 police pension scheme. Instead, recognising the high risk of harm that police officers face as an everyday part of their jobs, the policy applies only to the deaths that have occurred on duty."
It has been announced that the Scottish Parliament are to grant the same changes to their police survivors. We have been trying to convince Scotland that they have the devolved powers necessary to make the changes for a while, but once convinced they have acted quickly and decisively and have gone one stage further than England and Wales and have promised to reinstate the revoked pensions of survivors whose spouse was killed on duty.
This is an important step forward for the campaign as England and Wales have always refused to make retrospective changes to police pension schemes. Scotland and Northern Ireland are part of the Prime Minister's, "...one nation - one United Kingdom." We will keep campaigning in the rest of the United Kingdom for parity with the RUC widows in Northern Ireland.
The government are anxious to appear fair to the tax payer - 11,000 tax payers took the time to leave a comment when they signed our Change.org petition, and we believe that the Government should hear from them. Yesterday we delivered those comments to Number 10 Downing Street.
Our mantra from day one of the campaign has been, "No police widow left behind," this now extends to widowers and civil partners; we will continue to campaign until we achieve parity with Northern Ireland and lifelong pensions for all police survivors.