Charity event goes prehistoric as Telford policeman leads dinosaur race
It's not every day you hear the sound of running dinosaurs through the halls of a Victorian prison.
But one Shropshire policeman and his daughter dressed up in their finest T-Rex costumes to raise money for a good cause.
Pc Lee Thomas, safer neighbourhood officer for Newport, and his 17-year-old daughter Chloe, a sixth form student at Newport Girls High School, held the race as part of the LockUpLockIn event in the old Victorian custody suite at Steelhouse Lane Police Station in Birmingham.
They faced off against two officers from the Metropolitan Police in London and a member of the team behind the popular UK Cop Humour social media site.
As well as the occasional dinosaur race, the event saw 40 people bed down for the night for a taste of Victorian jail life.
The event was held to raise money for the Care of Police Survivors organisation, a charity that supports families of police officers who have died in the line of duty.
Further funds were collected for the West Midlands Police Heritage project to convert the cell block into a new police museum.
Pc Thomas said: “I’ve supported the work of Care of Police Survivors for a number of years through my own work on social media, but the dinosaur race idea was all down to Chloe and one of the main event organisers, Julia Berry.
“It didn’t take much persuading on Chloe’s behalf to rope in a few other willing participants from the world of policing social media to create what we hope was a highlight of the evening's entertainment that saw five brightly coloured Tyrannosaurus Rex running around the basement level of the cell block.
“The whole thing was streamed live on social media so that people who couldn’t make the event could join in the fun. Unfortunately we were not able to stay the whole night but about 40 others bedded themselves down for a taste of jail life from the Victorian era.”
He added: “The main point of the night, of course, was to raise as much money as possible for charity and I’m very proud of Chloe whose own efforts have raised a massive £430 in just a couple of days, towards the current running total for the whole event of £8,811.“
Pc Thomas wasn’t the only West Mercia Police officer taking part in the event. Also doing his part to help raise money for charity was Custody Sergeant Billy Keys from Worcester Police Station who raised £745.
Another highlight of the evening for everyone who took part was a visit from Pc Dave Wardell and retired police dog Finn, Pc Thomas said.
Finn became a worldwide celebrity after being stabbed and critically injured protecting Pc Wardell when he was attacked in Hertfordshire in October 2016 while searching for an armed suspect.
Finn required major surgery to save his life but went on to make a full recovery, and as a result of Pc Wardell’s subsequent campaigning, ‘Finns Law’ became law in 2019 making it a specific offence to harm a service animal.
For more information about the LockupLockIn or to donate, visit chuffed.org/project/lockup-lockin