A Special Constable from Bedfordshire has won a prestigious volunteering award, after becoming the UK’s first Special Constable Dog Handler following a battle with Cystic Fibrosis and a successful double lung transplant.
Special Constable John Power, 30, was honoured at the Lord Ferrers Awards 2015 (previously known as the Special Constabulary and Volunteer Awards) at the Houses of Parliament. John, accompanied by Police Dog Charlie, received the Special Constable Overcoming Adversity award from the Home Secretary.
John commented: “I was so excited just to be nominated at the awards, so winning was a complete surprise. I’m very grateful, and proud to represent Bedfordshire Police. I’ve been making the most of every opportunity since I had my lung transplant, and this award is the highlight of my work as a Special.
“Awards like this are vital, because they are a chance to honour the volunteers who give up their time to support front line policing across the UK. I would not have got this far without the support of my managers at Bedfordshire Police, and I’m extremely grateful for their support.”
John was diagnosed with CF when he was only a year old. His health had been deteriorating gradually, and at the end of 2011 his specialist recommended he should join the transplant waiting list before he became too ill to survive a potential transplant operation.
As a result, John took on a non-operational role with Bedfordshire’s Special Constabulary, working with two explosive-detection search handlers and their dogs at Luton Airport. It was this experience which led him to explore the possibility of whether, as a Special Constable, he could specialise in this area.
In 2012, John received a life-changing double lung transplant. Once back to full health and with the support of senior staff at Bedfordshire Police, John was accepted on to a training course in Surrey with Charlie, the three year old black Labrador.
John and Police Dog Charlie successfully completed their training earlier this year, and the duo will work at Luton Airport searching for explosives, and carrying out checks prior to VIP visits.
Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “This is a huge achievement for John and we are all delighted for him. This award speaks volumes of John as an individual and his dedication and commitment to Bedfordshire Police, the communities we serve and the Special Constabulary.
“The Specials provide vital support to our frontline officers, and are an essential part of the wider policing family. Our Specials make a significant contribution to Bedfordshire Police, and bring various skills and experiences with them.”