Widow of Flood Pc Bill Barker thanks Cumbria community

The widow of a Cumbrian police officer who died as he tried to save lives during the 2009 floods has publicly expressed her thanks for support she has received by organising a charity event.

Hazel Barker has planned the event to coincide with the anniversary of the November floods.

It aims to pay tribute to the people of Cumbria after a year of extraordinary and devastating events which have affected hundreds across the county.

Mrs Barker said: "The people of Cumbria have been through an awful lot in a short period of time.

"We have said on many occasions how we recognise the effects. It's more than just about Bill."

"This is about putting our words into actions.

"It's our way of saying thank you for the support we have received and our way of paying tribute."

In November last year, Cumbria suffered unprecedented rainfall. Flood waters destroyed many houses and businesses - and claimed one life.

Image caption Pc Barker had been with the Cumbria force for 25 years

Pc Bill Barker was directing traffic away from Northside Bridge, Workington, when it collapsed early on 20 November.

The father-of-four, from Egremont, fell into the River Derwent and was swept to his death.

Some months later, in May, two teenagers and a 68-year-old man died when a school bus crashed into a car on the A66.

Just days later, gunman Derrick Bird shot dead 12 people in a rampage across West Cumbria, before killing himself.

Afternoon vigil

Mrs Barker said: "We think the people of Cumbria deserve to be pampered. If this helps in anyway then it will all have been worth it."

The charity event will take place at Washington Hotel, Workington. There will be a vigil in the afternoon to remember those who died during the events of 2009/10.

It will be followed by an evening of celebration in an effort to look positively towards the future.

Image caption A message of sympathy where Kenneth Fishburn was shot in Egremont

Mrs Barker spoke about how she was still trying to cope with the loss of her husband.

She said: "Every day is a hurdle. I come out and smile and throw myself into things like this for therapy but I still can't get used to having the idea of not having Bill about."

But she stressed that the most important people in her life were her children.

She added: "It affects everybody. I hope that we can do Bill proud and look to tomorrow."

The money raised from the charity event on Saturday will be split between the Great North Air Ambulance, which was Mr Barker's preferred charity, and the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) which support families of officers killed while on duty.

You can see more from Hazel Barker and how West Cumbria has recovered from 2009 floods in, "Cumbria - After The Floods" 1930 GMT Friday on BBC 1.

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