Whalley came to a standstill this morning as family, colleagues and well-wishers gathered to remember a brave policeman who died aged 45.
Lancashire Constabulary officers in uniform formed a guard of honour for father-of-three Det. Chief Insp. Andy Gilbert, who died after a brave fight with cancer.
The award-winning officer, described as “one of the most commended police officers in the history of the Constabulary”, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
He lived in Brockhall Village with his wife, Sarah, and daughters, Eve (12), Grace (9) and seven-year-old Alice.
Around 350 mourners packed English Martyr’s RC Church, this morning to pay their final respects. The hour-long funeral took over the streets of Whalley as loved ones, friends, police officers, villagers and shopkeepers stood silent in respect.
Two shire horses led the funeral procession to the church, followed by pallbearers and finally the hearse, with DCI Gilbert’s body carried into the church to Ellie Goulding’s song “How long will I love you”. The casket had the word “Andrew” spelt out in flowers.
Det. Chief Superintendent Ian Critchley, Divisional Commander HQ Crime, paid tribute to the dedicated officer. He said: “Andy has been an outstanding police officer, and was tireless in his commitment to at all times providing outstanding quality of service to the public when they needed him most.
“This is evidenced by the fact he has been one of the most commended police officers in the history of the Constabulary.
“These commendations have been achieved in his many different roles within the constabulary which have included working in Rossendale on geographic patrol, on the support unit and in many detective roles which have included professional standards, force intelligence department, divisional Crime Manager at Southern Division and more latterly in his role as a Senior Investigating Officer within the Force Major Investigation team.
“His commendations have included acts of bravery by disarming a male with a knife and providing first aid to a victim of stabbing in Burnley in 1988. In 2005 he was awarded commendations for his leadership in reducing crime in Rossendale and for bringing three offenders of multiple armed robberies to justice. In 2012 Andy was commended for his leadership in Southern Division for his work in leading staff in tackling and reducing crime across the area. Since being diagnosed with cancer Andy was also presented with a commendation for his leadership on the Force Major Investigation Team and the tragic investigation into the brutal killing of a 16-year-old girl from Blackpool.
He added: “Andy’s illness has touched all his colleagues and our close working partners together with members of the public. “While there has been an overwhelming feeling of sadness since the diagnosis last year, Andy, Sarah and the whole family have proved to be truly inspirational in how they have fought against this devastating illness.”
After the church service in Whalley, a short service was held at Accrington Crematorium, followed by refreshments at Mitton Hall.