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HRH Princess Royal marks special opening ceremony for new operational training centre

A WWI hero has been honoured in the naming of our brand new training centre in Clevedon.

HRH Princess Royal officially unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of The Wilfred Fuller V.C. Operational Training Centre and commemorate the man who worked as a beat policeman in Somerset in the 1920s and 30s.

The remarkable day included demonstrations from our horses and dogs units, displays from Grenadier Guards, the Police Mace Escort, WWI biplane flyovers and a talk from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary Volunteer Historical Society.

Police Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “It was a tremendous day with some fantastic displays from officers and staff who will be using this facility, alongside partner agencies and other forces around the region, to ensure that we are providing the highest standard of service to our public and keeping them safe.

"The Wilfred Fuller V.C. Operational Training Centre represents a real step forward for Avon and Somerset and now provides some of the best facilities in the country for operational officer training which is essential for keeping our public safe at large scale events, or multi-agency operations as well as engaging people in our communities.

"It was a great honour for us to have the Princess Royal mark the special occasion."

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “It was a momentous occasion and an honour to have Her Royal Highness Princess Anne come and mark the opening of our fantastic new Wilfred Fuller V.C. Operational Training Centre.

“I could see the officers and staff were bursting with pride as they demonstrated the work they do.

“This new state of the art operational centre will provide a regional hub where we train our officers and staff to the highest standard, as well as working collaboratively our partners in the fire and rescue service as well as the ambulance service.”  

Wilfred Dolby Fuller lived between 1893 and 1947 and was a bobby on the beat in the 1920s and 30s in Somerset, where he covered the Milverton, Ilminster, Clevedon, Nunney and Frome areas.

In 1915, during World War I, while serving as a Lance Corporal in the First Battalion Grenadier Guards in France, he demonstrated outstanding bravery during a battle when he pursued an enemy group along the trenches, defeated them and captured 50 people single-handed. 

Wilfred was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on June 4 1915. In the 180 year history of Avon and Somerset PC 141 Fuller is the only person to have been bestowed the honour. He is also one of only seven police officers in the whole of Great Britain and The Commonwealth who were ever awarded the Victoria Cross.

His son John Fuller, who attended the ceremony said: “It was an honour to be at the ceremony and have the Princess Royal open a building that is named in my father’s honour. I was delighted to be invited. The whole family are delighted that Wilfred has been honoured in this way and the whole day was very special and overwhelming."

Historian Alan Vowles, Lead Service Manager of Information services here at Avon and Somerset, has written biography on Wilfred Fuller V.C. entitled Our Wilf.

He said: “It was an honour to present HRH Princess Royal with a copy of the book that tells the history of Wilfred Fuller V.C.

“I originally discovered him while going through our archives and his name was coming up so much I suggested naming the centre in his honour.

“The more I discovered the more interested I became so I started to collate everything I found in one folder.

“I originally only intended to write an information pamphlet on Wilfred for the purposes of the opening of the centre but it turned into a book!

“I hope people will enjoy reading the historical account of his life as much as I enjoyed learning about it.”

Posted on Friday 5th May 2017
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