Andy Hocking was the community beat officer in Falmouth neighborhood of Cornwall, England, walking the streets each day and getting to know the people who lived and worked there.
So when the 52-year-old suddenly died this week while on duty, the community decided to walk his beat as a way of showing their support and appreciation — and the entire community showed up to do it.
A total of 6,000 people showed up to honor the fallen officer, marching through the same streets that Hocking walked each day at his job. It was a response even the event’s organizers didn’t expect. Those who put together the memorial walk said they thought 2,000 people would show up at most, and were blown away when the crowds grew so thick that they filled the streets.
Organizers took advantage of the huge crowd, asking that participants to “take time to talk to someone you don’t know, as Andy would do so well, and share a smile, as Andy always did.”
Local photographer Hugh Hastings was a friend of Andy’s and carried the police officer’s picture during the march.
“He was always a fantastic person,” Hastings said. “He represented Falmouth in such a superb way. Wonderful at his job. Always had a smile for everybody but he could do his job well at the same time. He kept control in the most wonderful way. And he’s an irreplaceable icon. We’ll all miss him.”
The procession was led by Andy’s family members, followed by the local police and fire departments and ambulance crews — some of whom had responded to the medical emergency that took his life this week.
Andy’s brother Stephen Hocking also spoke on behalf of the family, thanking the thousands of people who showed up to pay respects to his brother.
Iconic, approachable, respectful, proud, smiley, gently, legend, hero, committed, friendly, goner (Arsenal fan) and professional. But he was also a loving husband and dad. Colleagues and community members continue to pay tribute to an iconic officer of the law.
The memorial walk for Andy Hocking has now reached a much wider audience. News outlets across the U.K. began picking up on the story, and a link to the Falmouth Packet story about his memorial was submitted to the Uplifting News page on Reddit, where it gained thousands of user votes.
[Image via BBC]