A SOMBRE anniversary falls today as police officers and community members join the family in remembering fallen Tamworth police officer Senior Constable David Rixon a year after his death.
On March 2, 2012, Senior Constable Rixon was fatally shot on a routine traffic stop in West Tamworth.
Senior Constable Rixon’s wife Fiona and their children will be joined by officers from across the state to mark the anniversary, many of whom have spent the past week completing a charity walk in his honour.
Officers will form a sombre march to Tamworth Police Station to arrive at 8am, where the flag will be lowered to stand at half mast.
NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, will unveil a plaque honouring Senior Constable Rixon, during a ceremony at Tamworth Community Centre at 11am.
Fiona Rixon said she will take a private moment during the day to remember her husband, the man who she described as her “other half”.
“He was my best friend, we did absolutely everything together, everything,” she said.
About 60 police officers of the 140 who walked arrived in Tamworth last night after a 370km journey titled “Our Mates, Our Families,” which began in Wyong last Monday.
Rainy weather welcomed the walkers as they completed the last few kilometres of their 10-day trek, ending at the Longyard Hotel.
Senior Constable Rixon’s stepdaughter and Probationary Constable Jemma Galea, who walked alongside four officers from the Oxley Local Area Command, said today’s memorial services would be bittersweet for her and her family.
“I guess it’s hard to say how it will affect you until the day,” Probationary Constable Galea said.
Completing the last of the walk alongside her mother yesterday, she was wearing the bright pink cap she wore for the the duration of the walk.
The cap was the subject of a personal joke between her and her stepfather.
“David said to me when I bought it, ‘When are you ever going to wear that hat?’” Probationary Constable Galea said.
“So now I wear it, to remember him.”
Ms Galea said the walk was harder than expected, and she was full of “sore muscles, blisters and a bit of sunburn”, and everyone was looking forward to a hot shower before the fundraising event at Wests’ Diggers last night.
The walkers camped along the way, passing through six police local area commands, many of whom sent officers to Tamworth to help out in the days and weeks after the tragedy.
Organising police from Tuggerah Lakes said they were inspired by the Cooee recruitment march, a famous walk that began in Gilgandra in 1915 with 35 men, its ranks swelling to 265 by its end in Sydney, all eager to join the Australian war effort for WWI.
Oxley Local Area Commander Superintendent Clint Pheeney said his officers were honoured to take part in the walk, and ceremony, to remember their former colleague.
“David’s death was heartbreaking for all of us at Oxley Local Area Command,” Superintendent Pheeney said.
“But when a police officer is killed it’s not only the local police and their immediate colleagues who are touched, it’s the entire police force and community as a whole.”
“I’m extremely proud of all the officers who have taken part in the gruelling walk as it shows their resolve and determination to honour their mate, and to raise funds for not only his family, but the families of other fallen officers.
“I’m particularly proud of all of David’s colleagues here at Tamworth who have continued to do their job on a daily basis since his death, even though all their hearts have been broken.
“David has never been far from our minds and this will certainly be the case tomorrow, especially during the ceremony. The plaque will serve as a permanent honour to him in the community and one I’m sure all who knew him will be extremely proud of.”
Commissioner Scipione said the relay-style walk from Wyong Police Station to Tamworth was raising money for both the NSW Police Legacy and the David Rixon Memorial Fund.
“Last year we experienced the tragedy of losing two of our officers and so we all have extremely heavy hearts today,” Commissioner Scipione said. “However the ceremony gives us the opportunity to reflect on Senior Constable Rixon’s life and career, and to remember the outstanding husband, father, friend and colleague that he was.
“The walk and ceremony are testimony to the honour that exists among those who have chosen to become part of the police profession. It also demonstrates our respect, our grief and our resolve to continue, despite the hardships that may confront us.”
The official ceremony will take place at 11am at Tamworth Community Centre in Darling St.