Police have paid tribute to a civilian who cared for and looked after a memorial for three officers killed on duty in Shepherd’s Bush.
Reg Collins lived in Braybrook Street - the scene of the murder of the unarmed police officers shot dead in their car in 1966.
Now, police have visited his family to pay their respects after Mr Collins, who would also mark the anniversary of the murders each year, passed away last month on his 81st birthday. His funeral took place on Monday (September 7).
Detective Sergeant Christopher Head, Detective Constable David Wombwell and Constable Geoffrey Fox, who were shot dead on August 12 1966, were routinely patrolling when they approached the occupants of a vehicle that was parked suspiciously close to Wormwood Scrubs Prison and were gunned down.
A memorial stone to honour the three officers was placed on the spot where they were slain in 1988, opposite the house of Mr Collins, who would look after it for the next 27 years: clearing away weeds, keeping it in pristine condition at all times, and on occasions scolding people who disrespected it.
Mr Collins, who who lived on the road for 48 years and did not know the officers or have any connection to the police, would also pay a silent tribute every August 12 outside his home.
Police say he was known as "the man with white hair who was stood quietly at the gate".
This year, he was unable to pay his heartfelt tribute last month as he was in hospital, where he died five days later.
His daughter, Evelyn Hazel, contacted Hammersmith & Fulham Police to inform them that her father would no longer be looking after the memorial.
And on the day of his funeral, officers visited his home to pay their respects to Mr Collins as he had done for many years to their fallen colleagues.
Former borough commander Lucy D’Orsi: “I first met Reg during a memorial service for our fallen colleagues a few years ago. Reg attended this service every year for 27 years quietly paying his respects to those officers who died whilst tackling criminals - he never forgot them.
“I will always be grateful to Reg for keeping the memorial stone looking its best over the years, even, on occasion challenging those few people who perhaps did not understand what the memorial stood for."
Evelyn said: “Dad would sit in his chair by the window which overlooked the memorial stone and keep an eye on it. He would clean it up when it got dirty and remove the dead flowers and wreathes that had withered away.”
Commander D’Orsi added: “Reg personified the quiet and consistent support the wider public give to police officers as they go about their difficult and sometimes dangerous duties. My thoughts are with Reg's family and friends at this sad time.”
Harry Roberts was jailed for life after he shot dead DC Wombwell, 25, and Sgt Head, 30. He was controversially released from prison last year, aged 78.
John Duddy fatally killed PC Fox, 41, and was given a life sentence, as did a third member of the gang.