A long-serving Dacorum police officer has been presented with the prestigious Frank Mason Memorial Award in recognition of his dedication to the role even when undergoing treatment for cancer.
Police Constable Andy Simms, 51, was selected for the accolade, which is awarded each year in honour of an off-duty police officer who was fatally wounded in Hemel Hempstead more than three decades ago.
PC Francis Mason, better known as Frank, was walking his dog on 14 April 1988 when he witnessed a security van being held up by armed robbers in Bank Court. He displayed enormous courage and tackled the gunmen, but he was shot and sadly died aged just 27 years old, despite efforts to save him. As a result of his intervention the security guard was able to get to safety.
Each year, the award is presented to a Dacorum-based officer who has displayed PC Mason’s qualities of dedication, professionalism and selflessness in protecting the community. They are nominated and voted for by their supervisors and selected by senior officers in the borough.
PC Simms, who has served with Hertfordshire Constabulary in Dacorum for almost 24 years, is known as the “go to” man in the station – even when he’s off duty. In his nomination, colleagues hailed him for ‘making a massive difference’ to the local community and every officer he has supported over two decades of dedicated service.
One fellow officer said: “Simmsy has made a massive difference to not only the lives of an enormous amount of Dacorum residents throughout his time working in the borough, but he has also made a huge difference to most, if not all, officers on intervention and beyond through his coaching and the knowledge that he shares with everyone.”
In another example of his top-level work ethic, a nomination cited how PC Simms had showed great strength and fortitude to not let a serious medical condition impact his work. His tenacity in investigations that led to swift arrests to reassure local people, was highly praised and he was described as a ‘people person with a style which can dissolve boundaries, calm the hostile and display sensitivity when needed’.
Another colleague said: “If ever anyone has something they are unsure on, it’s always Simmsy that people go to for advice and he is always happy to help with a smile. He has shared his wealth of knowledge with a huge number of officers.
“He has had battles of his own to deal with, with his own health recently, but still showed up for work with a smile and battled on through like we all knew he would.”
Commenting on the achievement PC Simms said: “It is true to say that I was genuinely very shocked to receive the award. However, it does fill me with pride that I have won and be the most recent in a long list of excellent officers and to get the award that bears Frank Mason’s name is a real honour.”
PC Simms was presented with his award today (Friday 14 April), and afterwards attended Bank Court with special guests including PC Mason’s widow, Jill Ann Sciberras and daughter Jodie, Assistant Chief Constable Matt Nicholls, Dacorum Chief Inspector Jason Keane and Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd.
There, they laid flowers in honour of their fallen colleague PC Frank Mason and paid their respects to him in a moment of reflection. Other guests in attendance included Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning, Dacorum Borough Council mayor Cllr John Birnie.
Dacorum Chief Inspector Jason Keane said: “I must give a huge thank you and congratulations to PC Simms, a hugely worthy winner of this prestigious accolade. He is a credit to Hertfordshire Constabulary. His love for the job is clear and he has helped generations of new officers with his wise advice over the years.
“The Frank Mason Award is the highest honour that we can bestow upon our police officers in Dacorum and it is important that, 35 years on, we still remember PC Mason. His admirable qualities live on in our colleagues, who come to work to solve crime, get justice for victims and make a real difference. He made the ultimate sacrifice, trying to do the right thing in protecting the public, and for that he will never be forgotten.”