One of the most well-loved members of Crawley’s police team has died.
Ken Oldershaw, who was one of the area’s first police community support officers, passed away on Friday (March 28), aged 64, six months before he was due to retire.
He had been battling cancer but died of pneumonia in the Royal Marsden Hospital.
Police and members of the town’s Neighbourhood Watch will stand a guard of honour at his funeral on Thursday (April 3).
Tributes have been paid to Ken, who had been part of the town’s police team for 10 years, offering his friendship and expertise to members of the Three Bridges and Northgate community forums as well as the town’s Neighbourhood Watch.
His daughter, Kelly, described him as having had “a big impact” on Crawley.
She said: “He was one of the first PCSO’s. He started at Gatwick before they had them in Crawley but Neighbourhood Watch was his favourite part of the job.
“He really loved being part of and creating Neighbourhood Watch groups.
“He did some work with the children at one of the schools and he would even go to meetings when he wasn’t on duty.
“Mum would always say, ‘It’s not your night’ but he was very committed.”
Ken was married to Sue for 35 years and Kelly said family was the most important thing in the world to her dad.
She and her mother, along with her brothers Dean and Adrian, sister Nicole and Ken and Sue’s grandchildren Chloe, Christopher and Anne-Marie, plan to say their goodbyes while making one of his dreams come true.
Kelly said: “His dream was to go on a cruise. He would say ‘on my 65th, when I retire and get my money, I will take Sue on a cruise’.”
So, on his 65th birthday, October 7, they will take that cruise and scatter his ashes on the ocean.
Kelly said: “It’s not how we would have imagined it but it’s what we can do.”
Ken was a huge fan of Tottenham Hotspur FC and indulged a love of fishing – but many people will remember him for his back garden barbecues, complete with his own bar ‘Del Boy’s’.
Kelly said: “He was famous for his barbecues and parties – all the police used to come round and join in.
“When they told his colleagues he had died, they just all logged off and just cried. It was unbelievable.
“He was an inspiration. He never believed that cancer would beat him and it didn’t. It was something else and it was so sad.”
Chief Inspector Justina Beeken, of Sussex Police, said: “Ken was a fantastic character in the office and the community he served.
“He will be remembered fondly, and with many a smile, for his care and attention over his precious CCTV van.
“Ken cared passionately about the community he served in Crawley, and he will be missed by us all. My thoughts are with Ken’s family at this incredibly sad and difficult time, and to whom I offer my support and sincerest condolences.”
John Wright, of the Sussex Neighbourhood Watch Federation said Ken was “absolutely loved by all” and added: “If you ever met Ken it was an instant like. He had a wonderful sense of humour and was very proud of what he did with the police.
“He was a stalwart for Neighbourhood Watch. We achieved so much with his help and guidance. He will be very sadly missed.”
Ken’s family thanked the community for the support and best wishes they have received. They will be setting up a fund to make his final cruise possible.
The funeral will be held at 4.30pm on Thursday at the Surrey & Sussex Crematorium followed by a wake at LB1, in Gales Drive.
Instead of flowers, donations to Ken’s Dream Fund are requested via igg.me/at/kensdreamfund