'Very humbling' - Volunteer police officer's British Empire Medal joy

Special Supt Paul Booker British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to policing

Special Supt Paul Booker has been granted a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to policing. - Credit: The Booker family

A long serving volunteer police officer, who returned to the beat after overcoming horrific injuries in a crash with a drink driver, has been recognised in the Queen's New Year's Honours list.

Special Supt Paul Booker British Empire Medal (BEM)

Special Supt Paul Booker has been granted a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to policing. - Credit: The Booker family

For almost 33 years, Paul Booker, from Lowestoft, has dedicated thousands of hours as a volunteer special constable and now special superintendent with Suffolk Constabulary in East Suffolk.

But after more than three decades of helping communities, he said he was "very humbled" to be told he would be granted a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to policing.

Admitting the honour came "a bit out of the blue", Special Supt Booker praised the "fantastic" support and understanding of his family, friends and colleagues.

Paul Booker responding to an incident in Lowestoft.

Paul Booker responding to an incident in Lowestoft. - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

A chartered project manager, Special Supt Booker first stepped out onto the beat as a special constable for the Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard in 1989.

Recalling how that "was a very daunting experience" as an 18-year-old, he completed 17 years service with the Met before transferring to Suffolk in 2006 to serve within the Special Constabulary.

“From the very first time I walked into Lowestoft Police Station, I felt at home - everyone was very welcoming," he said.

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Progressing to become a sergeant, an inspector and now special superintendent, whether it has been out on the frontline providing visible policing and assisting officers or tutoring new special constables after all the years of volunteering, he said: "I am very humbled - the people I work with are fantastic people.

Paul Booker

Paul Booker in 2010. - Credit: Lucy Taylor

"All the specials in East Suffolk work so hard."

With Mr Booker given a BEM for services to policing, the British Empire Medal is granted in recognition of meritorious civil or military service.

Paul Booker at a previous Lowestoft Carnival.

Paul Booker at a previous Lowestoft Carnival. - Credit: Mick Howes

"There have been amazing experiences, working with amazing people and I've enjoyed every moment," he added.

Paul Booker

Paul Booker. - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

"I have almost done 33 years service now, and although I'm 52 I'm still out on the beat, active and I like to get out on the frontline.

"This is an amazing achievement, but to get something like this I never ever imagined it or thought of achieving it - the focus has always been on helping, supporting and reassuring people.

"Every shift is different. I've been very lucky to help save a couple of peoples' lives and it is about helping people on the frontline while also assisting officers and patrols."

Lucky to be alive

Back in February 2009, while on duty with a special sergeant, Mr Booker suffered serious injuries in a crash after responding to a call-out in Lowestoft.

The crash scene in Tom Crisp Way, Lowestoft where Paul Booker was injured

The crash scene in Tom Crisp Way, Lowestoft where Paul Booker was injured. - Credit: Archant

He was a passenger in a stationary police car, when a speeding drink driver crashed head-on into the vehicle's passenger door at about 70-80mph on Tom Crisp Way.

Mr Booker suffered substantial injuries, which included a badly broken left arm, five breaks in his pelvic bone, a ruptured spleen, two fractured vertebrae, crushed lungs and a scarred liver.

He spent three weeks in hospital and underwent several operations as he was off full duties at work for more than a year.

Paul Booker

Paul Booker in 2010. - Credit: Archant © 2010

After the accident, Mr Booker used a wheelchair for more than three months and needed to learn to walk again.

But it didn’t stop him reporting for police duties while he was still in recovery as he continued to organise many events in Lowestoft.

Paul Booker in 2010

Paul Booker with The Outstanding Bravery of the Year Award in Suffolk in 2010. - Credit: Archant © 2010

And after overcoming the odds to eventually return to work, his courage was showcased in 2010 as Mr Booker was awarded a Stars of Suffolk Award for Outstanding Bravery.

He said: "It was a very traumatic time - I am lucky to be here.

"The police support back then was amazing and it was lovely to return to the beat and be out and about again after a year away."

If anyone is interested in joining the Special Constabulary as an officer or joining as a volunteer, please visit 
https://www.suffolk.police.uk/join-us/volunteers/special-constabulary

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