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The widow of PC Andrew Harper, who died while on duty, delivered a final love letter to her "childhood sweetheart" at his funeral today.
Lissie Harper - who had been married to Andrew, 28, for just four weeks when he was killed while investigating a burglary - spoke to mourners in Christ Church cathedral in Oxford today (Monday 14th October).
"From the ever sweet, lanky, red faced boy passing me notes in class, to the strong and loyal man you grew to be. I have always known how special you are," she began.
"We often talked about how lucky we were to have found and kept each other, true childhood sweethearts, loving one another more and more with each passing day. Not a day went past that we didn't say I love you.
"You used to tell me we were a team and that we would get through all of life's hurdles together, how I wish you were here with me now. The hardest challenge of all is losing you."
She went on: "We managed to pack so many amazing memories into the last 13 years, travelling the world, buying a house and getting married. You had a contagious love for life, filling each day with laughter and appreciating all the little things.
"You have always been a protector. Whether in your role of big brother, fierce friend, loving husband or keeper of peace among the public, keeping everyone safe was your priority, not only in your job but your family too. Everything was always okay when you were around.
"Although Andrew was strong he was also unfailingly kind, a gentle giant with a heart of gold. He wore his uniform with pride and vowed to challenge the bad and celebrate the good."
"He loved to be part of a team and had a work ethic to admire. Looking around me today I know that he was classed so very highly among his peers, known for being proactive, kind and fair," Lissie continued.
"Aside from the police however, Andrew treasured his family above all else, a country boy who loved the outdoors, picnics, barbecues and walking.
"We took many trips to Cornwall and Andrew was so at peace there, walking on the beach, Cornish pasties and fish and chips, it all made him so happy. This in fact was the last trip we took together after our wedding.
"I didn't realise at the time how precious those memories would become."
She continued: "To many of you Andrew was a lovely little part of your lives or even just someone who was always there on the periphery of life. However to me Andrew was everything, my breakfast buddy, my dancing partner, the love of my life.
"He could fix anything and kept everything, pen lids, Tupperware, countless keys with no home, screws, holey socks and broken bits to glue back together. He was an adventurer, food lover, board game competitor, he miss-pronounced words and always fell asleep during film nights.
"He loved nights in and laying by the fire, or finding a new road to wander and discover. He was always ready for the next adventure, never one to be deterred by anything, a positive force of nature.
"I will treasure every moment we had together from, sky-diving, bungee jumping, mountain climbing and white water rafting, to walking on beaches, collecting sea glass, cheeky takeaways and lazy mornings. We should have had so many more of these days together, for you Andrew above all deserved a lifetime of happiness."
The young widow went on: "Andrew was so many things to many of us, husband, best friend, brother, son, uncle, nephew and colleague. The kindest of kind and sweetest of sweet.
"He could cheer me up when I was down just by pulling a silly face or making a joke. I could never stay mad at him for long because he made me laugh in the middle of an argument. Oh how I hated that.
"I've never known anyone so kind, worry free, forgiving, positive and good as our Andrew, an animal rescuer, he could often be found laying on a rug with the family dog and even taking many creatures to Tiggywinkles Animal Rescue.
"If there was an animal in need you always seemed to come across it, hedgehogs, deer and even birds had been known to take a trip in the car with Andrew. A true friend to all."
"If there's one thing Andrew taught me it was to not sweat the small stuff and to treasure each day as if it is a gift.
"Every time I feel down and without hope I can hear his kind words in my ear telling me to keep going, find laughter, seek happiness. Forever more I will live each day for you Andrew, every moment of joy, peace, and love I promise to think of my husband and feel lucky to have known him as much as I did, more than anyone. He was my hero and his spirit will live on in my memories forever.
"My lovely boy, I miss you more and more as the days pass into weeks, my love for you will never fade, the sound of your laugh will stay with me. Your beautiful smile and warm embrace will fill my dreams and comfort me as you always have."
She went on: "A good friend said to me recently that they will never again complain about growing older, every year on this planet is a privilege, every grey hair a blessing, as not all of us will have the honour of getting old. More than anything I wish that my most favourite person had not been taken so early, so cruelly, so unexpectedly.
"'I wish' is a thought that no one should have to think! We should all get the chance to reach the true end of our lives, so for Andrew I only hope that we will live every day, every moment, as if it is our last. No more 'I wish', only 'I'm glad'.
"If everyone on this earth had just an ounce of the kindness and generosity that Andrew had, I know that it would be a better place.
"Andrew loved movies. We spent many nights in together with our favourite films and snacks. So I tried to find something appropriate to say from one of his favourites. Unfortunately Andrew, the Matrix or Dumb and Dumber didn't quite seem the right fit for this beautiful place, but perhaps this one will."
Lissie then finished by reciting W. H. Auden's 'Funeral Blues', as featured in 1994 British rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral.
PC Andrew Harper died from multiple injuries after being dragged under a van when investigating a burglary. An 18-year-old and two 17-year-old boys have been charged with his murder.
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