Mourners told constable 'best of the best'
A PSNI officer salutes as the coffin of Philippa Reynolds arrives at Mossley Methodist Church in Newtownabbey Co Antrim. photograph: alan lewis/photopress
Constable Philippa Reynolds who was killed when a stolen 4X4 vehicle crashed into her police patrol car in Derry last week was the “best of the best”, the PSNI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, said at her funeral in Newtownabbey yesterday.
The large congregation that thronged her service in Mossley Methodist Church on the outskirts of north Belfast heard how Const Reynolds (27) loved her policing career and was “one of life’s unique creatures”.
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland is the finest police service in the world and Philippa was the best of the best,” said Mr Baggott, as her parents, Dorothy and Mervyn, a former police officer, her sisters, Debra and Nicola, and boyfriend, Niall, listened to his tribute.
Const Reynolds was a backseat passenger in a PSNI patrol car when a stolen car smashed into the vehicle early last Saturday morning. She died instantly. Two men have been charged in connection with her death.
From Co Antrim, she studied geography at Queen’s University in Belfast before going to Liverpool to study teaching. She taught in Kilkeel, Co Down, but in her mid-20s decided to become a police officer.
Const Reynolds was stationed in Derry, where books of condolence were opened after her death. Many of her colleagues from Derry attended the funeral, some forming a guard of honour at the church while others acted as pall-bearers. A lone PSNI kilted piper played Abide With Me and Amazing Grace as the coffin was carried from the church.
Among the many that travelled from Derry for the funeral were the SDLP MP Mark Durkan and the Sinn Féin mayor of the city, Kevin Campbell. Also among the mourners were First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt and Alliance leader and Minister of Justice David Ford.
Ahead of the funeral Mrs Reynolds said her daughter brought her bright and positive personality to her work and her life. “We just brought her up to treat everyone the same and she said to me, ‘Mum, I just go out and I just talk to everybody like they are all the same people. I don’t worry about them being Catholic or Protestant, they are just people and I just talk to them.’ And that was just the way she was – she just talked to everybody and had a big smile, that was just what she was like.”
At the funeral Mr Baggott said Const Reynolds was compassionate, caring and courageous. “She was inspirational because to be truly inspirational means to affect people’s lives for the better and Philippa did that,” he said.
Debra Reynolds said that to know her sister “touched so many lives” was a real comfort to the family. She portrayed her as a woman who “wore her heart on her sleeve” and who had found true happiness in her career and with her boyfriend.
The Rev Alan Lorimer said with Const Reynolds, “there was always a smile bursting to get out” and that she was “one of life’s unique creatures”.