The Commissioner, Mayor of London and police colleagues will gather together with friends and family and other honoured guests to remember Met officer Sergeant Matt Ratana at a special memorial service in central London.
The event is to pay tribute to Matt, the custody sergeant who was tragically murdered while on duty on 25 September 2020.
It takes the place of the full force funeral that the Met was unable to hold following the fatal shooting due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
Matt was survived by partner Su Bushby and his adult son, a police office in Australia.
The specially invited guests will attend the Royal Military Chapel, Westminster, also known as the Guards Chapel – while police officers wearing dress uniform will flank both sides of Horseguards and Birdcage Walk in the vicinity.
Colleagues from many teams across the Met including the dog unit, mounted branch, and Croydon borough will be present within and outside of the chapel.
The Commissioner Cressida Dick will walk with Su Bushby and other specially invited guests from the National Police Memorial on the Mall to the chapel, passing the specially selected ‘Guard of Honour’ just outside its entrance.
This will be made up of Matt’s fellow sergeants from Met Detention and Croydon borough – his last posting in what was a distinguished 29-year-long career in the force.
Also stationed outside the chapel will be the quintet of pups that make up the “Ratana Litter” with their officer handlers, as well as two officers from the mounted branch.
Seven pups were originally named in Matt’s honour by Su Bushby on a visit to the Met’s Dog Training Establishment at Keston, of which five were deemed suitable for the 12-month national training course they are currently undertaking.
In May 2022, the aim is for the group to commence the 12-week NPCC Accredited General Purpose Dog Course in order to become fully licensed police dogs.
Currently they are all progressing well. The males are named Carter Matiu and Jonah, along with Blu, Koru and Whanau for the females.
The word ‘whanau’ means ‘family’ in Maori.
The mounted branch officers will be PC Chris Bruce on Elizabeth and PC Liz Keyle on Oliver – Liz worked with Matt during his time in the Territorial Support Group.
Inside the chapel, Reverend Prebendary Jonathon Osborne, Met Senior Chaplain, will lead the hour-long service, which will include a variety of hymns, readings and tributes, including from those representing Matt’s different passions outside of policing – rugby and motor biking.
In addition, a Maori hymn will be sung by Ngati Ranana – a New Zealand cultural group.
The service will include the Colour Party comprised of Sgt Ratana’s friends and colleagues, Acting Commander Karen Findlay – head of the Met’s Taskforce – Sergeant Martin Christianson from Met Command and Control and Sergeant Tom Haji-Savva from Croydon borough.
In addition, a Bugler will play the last post at the close of the service.
The colour bears the ‘service crest’ and is primarily used at ceremonial events and Passing Out parades.
The Met was issued with a new Colour in 2015; this was blessed by Reverend Prebendary Jonathan Osborne.
The formal handing over of a hat and gloves to his partner Su will also take place inside the chapel.
Commissioner Cressida Dick said:
“When Matt was sadly taken away from us COVID-19 meant we weren’t able to mark his death with a force funeral in the way that we would have wished to afterwards.
“We promised at the time that when restrictions weren’t in place we would arrange a special memorial service that would allow us all to come together in Matt’s memory, and I am delighted that today, we can finally honour that promise by gathering to pay him tribute.
“Matt has very much been in our thoughts over the last year, both as we grieved for him, but also as we planned for this very special day where we will remember and give thanks for his life.
“There will be sadness and reflection of course, but also celebration and much joy, for all the many lives he touched and the positivity and dedication with which he served.
“As with all our fallen colleagues, we will never forget Matt and we will continue to honour his legacy, which will live on through his family, his many friends and colleagues in the Met, in his rugby foundation and beyond.”
Photo credit: Metropolitan Police