Gwent Police Federation chair Maria Henry has retired, after 12 years as a workplace representative and the last two as a full-time official.
Maria first became a rep after being thankful for the support of the Federation when she faced disciplinary proceedings.
“Like so many people, I had subscribed to the Federation when I joined the Force. Given lots of pieces of paper to sign, I joined everything they wanted me to. I didn’t really know what the Federation did initially but, as time went on, I learned a lot more and became a workplace rep,” said Maria.
“This came after I had been served gross misconduct papers for an allegation which was later found to be unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, the allegation devastated me. Coming through the process made me want to help others who were in the same position as I knew the effect it can have on officers.”
She added: “But while aware of the impact of conduct hearings, I had never fully recognised the amount of work the Fed office does to support members through other things such as like ill-health retirements and sometimes the tragedy of losing a colleague to a terrible illness.”
Maria believes the Federation’s work is often underestimated.
“The Federation tries to help everyone and the work that goes on behind the scenes is phenomenal. I only wish that officers would actually realise that we are there to help them and support the organisation as well,” she said.
Maria joined the Force in 1991 and her service saw her move from Monmouth to Caerphilly,
where she was involved in tutoring student officers. On promotion to sergeant she moved to Risca and also spent three and a half years on the dog section before three years working in custody.
“So much has changed in the police service during my career but perhaps the biggest change has been around technology with mobile phones, computer systems, hand-held devices, body-worn video and everything that goes with them,” she said.
Maria was congratulated on her retirement by Chief Constable Pam Kelly and, having chaired her last Branch Board meeting in her final week at work, was presented with flowers and other gifts by the branch.
Steve Thorpe will be taking over as branch chair. Steve transferred to the Force in 2003 from Hertfordshire Constabulary following a career break and became a workplace representative last year.