A Warrington PCSO has been given an award in the Queen’s birthday honours.
Tony Spruce, 48, from Widnes, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) after his “exceptional commitment” to the Latchford community over the past 12 years.
Tony has been the driving force behind a number of successful community initiatives including the Victoria Park Experience (VPX), the Westy Boxing Club, St Werburgh’s community hub and Warrington’s Got Talent.
In 2017 the boxing club won an award at the Street Games National Conference, a charity which promotes sport in disadvantaged communities, for ‘Outstanding work in the Community’ and Tony has been awarded ‘PCSO of the Year’ in the Constabulary’s annual awards.
He said: “When we [PCSOs] first started people were very sceptical about the role but now it is very rare that you get negative comments about it and this award is testament to that. It is mad to think how many good PCSOs there are and I’ve got this. I’m just very lucky that I have a job that I love to do and there is always something different.
“The first day we went into Westy I was told that they didn’t like police. The only time people waved at us was with two fingers. But now we are chased down the street with people wanting to speak to us, or get a high five. It is really good. I love working in the area.”
Tony, who spends his spare time volunteering at Widnes Vikings, said that none of the initiatives he helped set up would have been possible without the help of others.
He added: “We try to make sure that everything we do is varied because not everyone likes sport. I will try everything once. I’m very lucky because my inspectors always back me.
“It is team work a lot of it. Nothing can be done without the support we get. VPX is run by Livewire, Warrington Wolves Foundation and Warrington Town FC and we had great support from the Fire Service when it started off.
“I’m very lucky with the partners we have because we all want the same thing. VPX Warrington has a lot of people who want to work on it and the people who were kids who came to it and now help us run it.”
Tony will pick up his award at a Royal Investiture in the near future.
David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “PCSO Tony Spruce embodies the true ethos of the role of a police community support officer; he is truly dedicated to making the community he serves a safer and happier place to live.
“He knows the value of community and is passionate about reducing anti-social behaviour which saw him develop the Victoria Park Experience as a diversion activity 12 years ago. His hard work and dedication to develop this event has seen the event grow into one of the biggest annual events in Cheshire.
“He truly deserves this recognition which is testament to his devotion to his career over so many years.”
Chief Constable Darren Martland said: “Tony’s hard work over the past 12 years has made a huge impact on the Latchford community and he has been an example to all our PCSOs and policing colleagues.
“He is truly passionate about the important work that PCSOs do in our communities and is great at knocking heads together to set up fantastic community events.”
Inspector Neil Drum, from Warrington Local Policing Unit, said: “Tony has shown exceptional commitment to improve the quality of life for young people, frequently going above and beyond.
“He exemplifies everything that we want in a PCSO, a problem solver, visible and known within the community and demonstrates excellent partnership working being able to negotiate, influence and secure support for a range of activities he works on - not least VPX which goes from strength to strength and has made a positive impact on the community.”