From surviving bomb attacks to supporting cops meet the Hucknall and Ashfield PCSO behind force's Armed Forces Network

An Ashfield PCSO who served for 22 years in the British Army has helped form a new group to help support other former military service personnel who have joined Nottinghamshire Police.

During his time in the army Steve Timperley, 55, fought off half a dozen militia who ambushed him in an attempt to take him hostage, narrowly escaped the full force of a 500lbs IRA mortar bomb attack in Crossmaglen, and miraculous survived a Land Rover crash that left him with several skulls fractures.

Last year, he discovered Nottinghamshire Police has many ex-military personnel in its ranks and, knowing some will also have endured traumatic experiences while serving on the frontline, he set about establishing a new group to slowly bring them together and has now formed the Police Armed Forces Network.

PCSO Timperley said: “To find out how many former military service personnel we’ve got in the force, I put out a survey and found that so far we have approximately 120 colleagues who were previously in the Armed Forces.

Members of the Armed Forces Network have attended recruitment days to encourage other military personnel to join the police when they leave the Army

“From there, the Nottinghamshire Police Armed Forces Network was formed and we’ve attended several events.

“Recently we celebrated Armed Forces Day by inviting the force’s band to play at the headquarters canteen, while we sat and enjoyed a chat and a cup of tea with fellow veterans and the police and crime commissioner.”

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Post-traumatic stress can affect many military personnel for many years, which is why the new Armed Forces Network is forging links with organisations that can provide support.

Ex-serviceman Steven Timperley launched the Nottinghamshire Police Armed Forces Network after joining the force as a PCSO

PCSO Timperley said: “Presently we are able to signpost veterans to external military support charities such as Combat Stress. Combat Stress informed me that research has shown, particularly with military persons of my generation, that it can take an average of 14 years for someone who is struggling to seek help.

“Just being around people who understand what you’ve gone through makes a difference and that’s partly why I set the network up.

“When we meet, we’ve all got that affinity with each other and mutual respect. We share the same identity having served our country on various operational tours and in war zones.

“It’s also nice to have that kindred spirit vibe when you bump into guys around the police station and straight away you click.”

Ex-serviceman Steven Timperley launched the Nottinghamshire Police Armed Forces Network after joining the force as a PCSO

Kirby team member PC Luke Bettridge, who was in the Grenadier Guards and served in Bosnia and Iraq before becoming a police officer in 2008, is among those who have joined the Nottinghamshire Police Armed Forces Network.

He said: “I didn’t realise how many ex-military people we had in the force until Steve started the network.

“He’s done a really good job and it’s given us a chance to socialise, share stories and support each other.

“The ‘Big Brew’ event we held on Armed Forces Day was nice as there was a good atmosphere and the recruitment fairs have also been a success.”

PCSO Timperley said he now plans to grow the Armed Forces Network with other veterans and that they will continue to support Nottinghamshire Police to attract more veterans over time.