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Widow's tribute to hero PC swept away in floods

The widow of a hero police constable swept away when a bridge collapsed in floods paid a moving tribute to her husband today.

Pc Bill Barker, 44, fell into the River Derwent when the bridge he was standing on in Workington collapsed.

His wife Hazel said today: "How do you put into words how you feel about somebody you are so proud of?

"Bill was my best friend, my forever friend, and an amazing dad. Even when he was exhausted from work, he would always take time out for the kids.

"I have the comfort of knowing that Bill died doing the job he loved, and the fact that he was helping others is just typical Bill."

Cumbria Police chief constable Craig Mackey confirmed that a body found on the beach earlier today was Pc Barker.

He said: "Bill was a wonderful police officer and a real family man. He leaves behind a wife and four children in their home in Egremont - two boys and two girls - aged between eight and 16.

"He was due to celebrate his 45th birthday tomorrow.

"Bill is a hero who died saving the lives of others and our thoughts are with his family at this devastating time. He was a much-loved friend, colleague and an inspiration to everyone he knew - he will be sadly missed.

"His friends say he loved being a police officer and, a passionate biker, he was part of the constabulary's dedicated roads policing unit.

"He was a sterling officer and had won a number of awards throughout his 25-year service with Cumbria Constabulary.

"Whilst this is an extremely difficult time for everyone involved in the rescue operation, our officers and staff continue to work valiantly to ensure the public remains safe."

Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with Pc Barker's family, friends and colleagues at this extremely sad time.

"Constable Bill Barker was a dedicated professional officer who was doing his utmost to help his local community in the face of a natural disaster and he has paid the ultimate price for his bravery and selfless actions.

"No words can help those closest to Pc Barker at this terribly distressing time but I hope they will find some comfort that the loss of this brave man is mourned by the entire police family throughout the UK."