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PCC and Chief Constable joined by BGT stars Dave and Finn to welcome nearly 15,000 visitors to Family Fun Day

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, and Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, were joined by Britain’s Got Talent finalists PC Dave Wardell and the police dog which saved his life, “Fabulous Finn” as they opened the Force’s 2019 Family Fun Day (Sunday 1 September 2019).

PC Wardell is still a serving member of the Dogs Unit which serves Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, although Finn has now retired from police duties and still lives with PC Wardell and his family.

PC Wardell explained to the crowd that he had honed the magic act which took him and Finn to the BGT final with the show’s producers to draw attention to the campaign for “Finn’s Law” for tougher penalties for those who attack police service animals, which became law in June 2019, after Finn, who had already been stabbed by an escaping burglar, threw himself in front of him to save PC Wardell from a fatal blow. Two vets fought to save the life of the heroic dog.

“There’s no doubt at all that Finn risked his life to save me. He usually slept in a kennel but, when he came home, I made a bed up on the floor and slept beside him for four weeks. I’d been stabbed in the hand myself but the physical injuries were the least of it; he helped me get over the mental effects of the attack just as much as I helped him get over his physical injuries, “ PC Wardell told the crowd.

“People think I’ve become a millionaire through Britain’s Got Talent but I haven’t made a penny; it was always about drawing attention to Finn’s Law.”

PC Wardell confirmed that Finn had made a huge impact on BGT lead judge, Simon Cowell; a well know dog lover: “Simon Cowell has invited us to his home for dinner to meet Squiddly and Diddly, his own two dogs, and he also made a substantial

contribution to a German Shepherd charity as a result of us appearing on the show,” he said.

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth opened the 2019 Bedfordshire Police Family Fun Day which took place on the sports field where the police Dogs Unit also train, on Sunday. In brilliant sunshine, the Fun Day attracted 14,725 visitors this year. Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “The Family Fun Day was an amazing day and I want to express a huge thank you to everybody who contributed and everyone who came to support the event. It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves. “We were very fortunate to have the day opened by Britain’s Got Talent finalists PC Dave Wardell and Finn, the police dog that saved his life. There were so many stalls showcasing what policing is all about and getting people involved in the important work that we do, including impressive displays from the dog unit and an exciting landing from the police helicopter by our colleagues from NPAS. To top it off we raised a huge amount of money for our force charity Embrace CVOC supporting child victims of crime. “These events are so important for the force to build relationships with our local communities, we loved meeting you all and we hope to see you at next year’s event.”

PCC Kathryn Holloway, a former presenter with TV-am and Sky News, then interviewed PC Wardell and met Finn. “It was an absolute pleasure to meet Dave and Finn and to hear this quite remarkable story from the man himself. It sounds more like a feature film than real life and should be made into one in my view: a police dog who forms an incredible bond with his handler and goes on to save his life, despite receiving horrendous injuries in the process; the law seeing an attack on a police dog as “criminal damage” so a campaign is launched for tougher penalties which actually becomes law. The two of them going on to the final of Britain’s Got Talent without a dry eye in the house - certainly not mine - and also winning a Cruft’s Award for human friendship with dogs, this summer - you couldn’t make it up!

“No wonder Dave and Finn were such a draw that almost 15,000 people from families across Bedfordshire poured in to meet them and enjoy all the other attractions on such a fantastic day. What a way to end the school holidays.” she said.

On 5 October 2016, Finn was attacked with a 10” hunting knife by a burglar trying to escape as he was pursued. As a direct result, The Annual Welfare (Service Animals) Bill was published in parliament by Sir Oliver Heald MP and received its second reading in June. The legislation will remove a section of the current law of self defence, often used by those who harm a service animal, and aims to increase maximum sentences for such attacks to five years imprisonment.

Finn was stabbed in the head and received extensive stab wounds to his abdomen in the attack but is now enjoying his retirement with the Wardell family.

The Family Fun Day also included a visit from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter, displays by the Dogs Unit, a chance for families to try on uniforms and get into police vehicles to sound the sirens and set off blue lights, a visit from the motor cyclists of the Road Policing Unit and partners such as Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, face painting by members of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, fairground rides and food stalls, including a Caribbean Food Shack run by Reactive8, who support ex-offenders to reform, on both sides of the HMP Bedford prison doors, on behalf of the PCC.

“In my opinion, it was the best Fun Day so far and not just because of the weather; Dave and Finn really made the day for me and everyone who got to meet them,” said Commissioner Holloway.