Funeral for hero Pc killed in Cumbrian floods

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The Independent Online

The funeral of hero policeman Bill Barker, killed in the Cumbrian floods, will take place later today with hundreds of mourners paying their last respects.

The traffic officer, 44, was swept to his death in the swollen waters of the River Derwent when the Northside Bridge in Workington collapsed beneath him.



Prime Minister Gordon Brown led thousands of tributes as it emerged his actions stopped vehicles crossing the stricken bridge but his bravery cost him his life.



His body was found on a beach in nearby Allonby hours after the tragedy, in the early hours of last Friday morning. He was due to celebrate his 45th birthday the day after.



Pc Barker's wife, Hazel, and four children, two boys and two girls, aged between eight and 16 are expected to lead more than 500 mourners at the public service at St Mary and Michael Church in the policeman's home town of Egremont.



The family say they have been overwhelmed and heartened by the show of support.



One week on from the "biblical" floods which deluged the county, communities are continuing to dust themselves down and carry on with the clean-up and reconstruction.



Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged £1 million of government money along with another £1 million coming from the North West Development agency.



And a Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund set up the morning after the floods hit, has received donations from across Britain and as far a field as New York with the total now standing at £600,000.



Meanwhile, a temporary train station is being built in Workington along with a temporary footbridge to reunite both sides of the town cut-off during the floods.



The footbridge spanning the River Derwent should be open to the public by December 5.



It will re-connect the north and south sides of the town whose main ties were severed following the collapse of the Northside Bridge and the closure of the Calva Bridge, which remains unstable and dangerous.



Some 200 soldiers will be involved in the operation, including the Royal Engineers, Royal Logistic Corps, Royal Signals and Royal Military Police.



Minister for the Armed Forces, Bill Rammell MP, said: "The Armed Forces were able to play their part in the magnificent rescue effort by the emergency services during the flooding, and I am very pleased that they will be able to make a further important contribution as the country helps people in Cumbria start to rebuild their communities after the devastation they suffered."



Today will also see an official visit of The Prince of Wales to the county.



The royal visitor will share the honour of turning on Keswick's festive decorations with BBC presenter Julia Bradbury.



Linda Furniss, Keswick tourism officer, said: "It is wonderful for Keswick. The support this will give us will be just amazing, we appreciate it so much, it will pull the whole community together."



Charles will meet residents and business leaders in Workington and Keswick before visiting Cockermouth tomorrow.

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