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Essex Police dog handler campaigns for memorial

Paul Nicholls with Sabre Image copyright K9 Memorial UK
Image caption Paul Nicholls with Sabre, the police dog who inspired him to create the memorial

The man behind Britain’s first memorial to police dogs needs to raise £30,000 in 100 days to finish the project.

Paul Nicholls, a former Essex Police dog handler, was inspired to create the K9 Memorial after the death of his canine partner Sabre in 2006.

There is already a plaque dedicated to animals who serve in Staffordshire but Mr Nicholls said he wanted to see a “more fitting tribute”.

He plans to unveil the 7ft (2.5m) sculpture in Chelmsford in April.

The statue, designed by artist John Doubleday, shows a police officer kneeling beside a German shepherd and a cocker spaniel to “draw attention to the dogs, rather than the handler”.

It will be placed in Oaklands Park to recognise the service of police dogs across the country.

Mr Nicholls, from Clacton-on-Sea, said his “world fell apart” when Sabre died of cancer in 2006.

“It broke my heart,” he said. “I just didn’t know how to cope.

“I used to sit in his kennel, smelling his blanket and holding his collar, just to feel close to him.”

Image copyright K9 Memorial UK
Image caption When complete, the sculpture – by John Doubleday – will be covered in bronze and mounted on a plinth in Oaklands Park, Chelmsford

Mr Nicholls, who also hands out medals to retired police dogs through the K9 Memorial UK charity, said the animals were the “unsung heroes” of every police force.

He said he was shocked to discover that apart from the plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum, there was “nothing” to remember “the brave dogs that look after us and keep us safe”.

About half of the estimated £60,000-cost has been raised so far.

“Everybody has been so supportive,” he said. “Sometimes, unfortunately, police dogs pay the ultimate price and that’s why I want to make sure they are never forgotten.

“Being an Essex boy, I’m incredibly proud to see the first national memorial for police dogs in Essex.”

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