A TATHRA man has been awarded the 20-year Police Medal, 28 years after he qualified.
Fred Pitchford was presented with his medal by Inspector Jason Edmunds at his home in Tathra last week.
The award was made after the New South Wales police decided to retrospectively recognise former sworn officers for their “diligent and ethical service”.
The medal is not given by virtue of long service, but on merit.
After working in Bega between 1968 and 1977 as a Second Class Sergeant (comparable to today’s Senior Sergeant) Mr Pitchford was discharged medically unfit from the force in 1980 and retired to Tathra.
Mr Pitchford had suffered severe ankle injuries that came from an accident after “arresting a couple of blokes” but mainly from kick-starting the old police Triumph motorbikes he rode.
Eventually, after nine operations on his ankle, doctors decided there was nothing further they could do and with complications arising, amputated his right leg below the knee.
At the presentation with family and friends, Mr Pitchford told of his experiences in Bega and the way policing then was completely different to today.
Mr Pitchford was in charge of the highway patrol and had 13 officers who were on the roads from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border.
There was one motorbike officer who was in Eden and lived in Wyndham, but the others were in cars and driving was not what it is now.
“For instance some of the roads were unmade and even the highways were nowhere near as good,” Mr Pitchford said.
“We drove Studebaker cars and then the Mini Cooper S, which really handled well on the winding roads.”
According to Mr Pitchford, the four men in Bega were very conscientious and drivers were certainly aware of their presence.
“They gave out between 200-250 tickets a month each,” he said.
Inspector Edmunds said it was an “absolute pleasure” to present Mr Pitchford with the medal.
“It is really important we don’t forget our history,” he said.
“And that we recognise the importance of all those years Fred served on behalf of the local community.”
After receiving the medal Mr Pitchford said it didn’t matter that it came 28 years after retirement, it was “just good to have it”.
“I always worked as well as I could so I am absolutely thrilled,” he said.
“It’s good to know they still think about the old fellas.”