Emergency services supporter and well-known TV personality Nick Knowles has called on his 155k followers to nominate PS Matt Ratana for the BBC Sports Personality Unsung Hero Award.
PS Ratana was shot and killed one week ago today after he went to check on the welfare of a suspected drug dealer who had been arrested shortly before.
PS Ratana was an extremely well-liked and well-respected officer, and both the Croydon Community and emergency services community have paid tribute to him.
PS Ratana was a huge rugby fan and spent a great deal of his time volunteering as a Head Coach at East Grinstead RFC. He dedicated himself to helping young people get into the sport.
Paying tribute to the highly-respected officer, a spokesperson for England Rugby.com said:
‘New Zealand-born, Matt, an outstanding prop forward, initially playing for London Irish on coming to England, went on to play for other clubs and to become head coach, role model and mentor at his Sussex club.
‘He gave tremendous service to the Metropolitan Police and to the game of rugby, which he loved.
Bob Marsh, Chairman, and Andy Poole, President of East Grinstead RFC, said everyone at the club was “utterly devastated” to hear the tragic news that the Police Sergeant had been killed.
“Matt was an inspiring and much-loved figure at the club and there are truly no words to describe how we are feeling. Our deepest and sincerest condolences go to Matt’s loved ones, family, friends, colleagues and to our community rugby family at this most terrible time.”
RFU President Jeff Blackett added:
“Matt Ratana epitomised all that is best in our sport. A coach and father figure to his players, he was a role model and much respected friend to many.
“He will be a huge loss to our game and the rugby family and especially to his partner, family and police colleagues. All our thoughts are with them.”
New Zealand Police recently performed a traditional Haka as a mark of respect for New Zealand born PS Ratana.
Community leaders in Croydon also came together to pay tribute to the 30-year veteran who was due to retire in the next few months.
Other well-known personalities in the emergency services community have also called on their social media followers to vote for Matt in tribute to the heroic officer, who spent so many years helping the public in his role as a police officer.
Earlier on today, a minutes silence was held for PS Ratana with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida DIck, and other senior officers taking part in the mark of respect for Matt.
Chief Inspector Craig Knight, who worked with Matt when he was a sergeant within his neighbourhood command team at Croydon, as well as at several public order events, said:
“Matt was one of the most caring, passionate and dedicated officers I have ever had the privilege to work alongside.
“I often gave him an issue knowing that he would deal with it without question, thoroughly and with utter professionalism. The welfare and support of everyone around him always came first before himself.
“I recall being in the middle of a public order situation as a commander and his hand grabbing my shoulder politely but firmly reminding me I couldn’t command whilst being in the middle of it all. I remember he did this so calmly it was as if the world slowed down around us long enough to allow me to recognise and respond to his guidance. He was right of course.
“I also recall he and I dealing with a really complex and difficult personnel matter. He went out of his way not once but regularly and often to support the officer in question and I knew that when Matt was dealing with it, it was going to be OK.
“Matt, I hope you’re sat back on a deck chair watching the rugby and enjoying a beer. Your work here is done, Your legacy will remain forever. You will be missed by all of us.”
Sergeant Chris Excell, who knew Matt for 12 years and worked with him in Croydon, said:
“Matt taught me everything that I know. As well as a mentor, he was a friend. He was someone who you could call up on the phone and just pick up exactly where you left off.
“Matt was always there for advice, he had the time to talk, and you always felt like you could be yourself around him.
“He was really caring and compassionate – an exemplary officer. If you were having a down day, his infectious character helped us all and he easily lifted your spirits. I remember the last thing he said to me – it was that a rubbish day only lasts for 24 hours. I’ll never forget those words.”
Sgt Ratana’s partner, Su Bushby, also paid tribute to Matt shortly after his death when she said:
“There aren’t really any words for how I am feeling right now about the loss of Matt; about losing someone I loved, and was so close to, in such a tragic manner.
“I know Matt touched many, many people’s lives with his friendliness, patience, kindness, enthusiasm and caring ways.
“I had the pleasure of sharing five years of my life with this lovely man – my gentle giant, with his infectious smile and big heart. I think of him with tenderness and love.
“Matt was my partner, friend, confidant, support and soul mate.
“He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Matt will always be in my head and in my heart. “
CLICK HERE to find out more about the BBC’s Unsung Hero Award and to find out more about how you can nominate Matt.
Emergency Services news has set up a memorial group on social media for PS Ratana.
Since the tragic death of PC Andrew Harper in August 2019, Emergency Services News has created a group for each member of the UK emergency services who have died while on duty.
To join the group that we have set up for PS Ratana, then please click HERE.
Talking about the groups our Editor, John Johnson said:
“One of the reasons we have set these memorial groups up is to ensure that the general public never forgets the sacrifices made by the men and women who have died in the execution of their duties.
“Each group is ‘private’, and they can be used as a place where colleagues, family and friends can share their work-related memories of PS Ratana.
“We must never forget or take for granted the sacrifices which are made by the men and women who serve in the emergency services.
“Since August 2019, five police officers and one firefighter in the UK have died or been killed whilst on duty”.