A Right Royal Hero!

Like so many of us across the country, here at Cavell Healthcare, we have been excited to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

Many of our clients remember the Coronation 70 years ago, so we wanted to give all of our clients something special to remember this truly special occasion, to honour our remarkable Queen. Another fondness many of our clients (and staff!) enjoy is a cuppa, so we decided what better memento of this special moment in history than a Platinum Jubilee mug. So, we had a mug designed and produced for every staff member and every client, and our team spent last week busily hand delivering these gifts to clients across East Anglia.

No one was more thrilled to receive his gift than John Allport. A retired met police officer, John also worked as a protection officer for the Queen. Our CEO, Gordon Anderson, recently went to meet John and was humbled by what an inspiration he is and what an amazing life he has had whilst making the world a safer and better place thanks to his selflessness and commitment to duty. Some of the stories he told Gordon are fun and exciting, like the time he was security for Cliff Richard at a concert or the fact that only he was allowed to escort Her Majesty the Queen to and from the royal flight at Heathrow and return her and her entourage to their waiting cars.

However, it is fair to say he is also a hero and encountered a number of life-threatening moments during his service to his country. In 1966, just five years after joining the force, he was called to a scene where a young lad was threatening his mother with a 12-bore shotgun. During a tussle on a precarious roof, whilst the youngster was trying to escape, the shotgun went off, narrowly missing John, and he was able to disarm the young man and get him the help he needed. Six years later and John was once again facing a shotgun, during the search of a suspect’s house, when the perpetrator fired point blank at John and his colleague. Luckily the two men were stood apart when the gun was discharged, so the majority of the fire went between them, although they were peppered with some spray which mercifully did little damage, whilst the rest of the shot blew a hole in the bedroom wall. In another incident John stopped a man in his car, who looked as if he was under the influence of drink or drugs, who suddenly tried to make a get away and when John tried to prevent him, he produced a huge commando knife; in the ensuring struggle, John’s fingers were badly cut but the man was apprehended.

It was on the night of 21st November 1975, when John encountered his biggest challenge – ironically whilst he was off-duty and enjoying a trip out with his two children. Whilst driving out of London he was suddenly overtaken by a car that had its back window blown out; it was when he heard the wail of police sirens behind him he realised he was in the middle of a high speed police chase. There were four men with sawn-off shotguns in the car and they were firing continuously at the police behind them. Moments later, the criminals’ car crashed into a ditch and without thinking John screeched to a halt only inches behind their car – stopping their only chance of escape. The men ran from the car and John gave chase, catching and wrestling him to the ground. However, as he struggled to subdue the man a second gunman appeared and threatened John unless he released his fellow villain. When John refused, he blasted his lower legs. Despite this, John refused to let go and luckily, before the gunman had a chance for a second shot help arrived and the men were detained.

Despite the severity of his injuries, John insisted on being allowed home to his beloved family that night but the next day he had to return to hospital and what turned out to be a two month stay and a further two year rehabilitation as he learnt to walk again.

These incredible acts of bravery have seen him presented with no less than five medals, two of which were presented by Her Majesty the Queen. As well as The Queen’s Gallantry Medal, he has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) from the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk and 2 medals from the Met police Commander, Sir Robert Marks; one for long service and one for gallantry. In addition, in 1977 he was recognised with a Community Contribution In Service Silver Jubilee Medal, which were only awarded during that year at the discretion of the government on the Queen’s behalf, and he has been awarded an MBE for his extensive charity work in his adopted hometown of Beccles in Suffolk where he moved after his retirement. In his picture of him with the Queen receiving his MBE, you can see she is waving her finger at him which he tells us was a moment when she was teasing him about something that had been said between them a couple of years earlier when he was on Royal protection duty!

When asked which medal was most important to him, John said his biggest reward in life has been his family – his wife, who has sadly passed away, and his two sons and daughter. However, he did say that each of his medals and awards have their own separate meaning to him and hold a place in his heart, and he does admit that to be recognised by her majesty the Queen twice is a little special! Gordon was also very touched when John said that he would nominate the carers who visit him every day for a medal, saying the Cavell Healthcare staff are real true heroes of the community and he could not thank them enough for their amazing support. John asked for special thanks to be passed on to them in particular Kirsty who he says is an angel and always has a smile for him, as well as Vilandra, Eliane, Kelly, Kiera, Kay, David and Zoe. We are all delighted to hear from John that the support he gets from Cavell Healthcare is nothing short of outstanding!

Gordon finished the visit by thanking John for his life of service and dedication and reminding him that we consider it an honour and a privilege to be caring for him. We are all in awe of what an incredible person he is!

So as the Jubilee celebrations draw to a close, we are so pleased that John, and all of our clients, have been delighted to receive their commemorative mugs and it was a pleasure to see the joy on their faces and help them mark this truly special moment in modern history.