Howzat for a fitting send-off on cricket-mad police officer’s last day

Sgt Paul Dennison with England batsman Joe Root.
Sgt Paul Dennison with England batsman Joe Root.

On his last day of active service as a police officer, it was a fitting send-off for a keen sportsman who has often been on duty at the home of Yorkshire cricket.

Police Sergeant Paul Dennison was given the task of ringing the bell signalling the start of the day’s play at the Headingley Test Match - and he took to it with gusto.

Paul Dennison with England's man-of-the-match Jonny Bairstow.

Paul Dennison with England's man-of-the-match Jonny Bairstow.

So much so that part of the bell came off in the 49-year-old’s hand as he performed the ceremonial task on Friday morning, much to the amusement of an England cricketing superstar standing nearby.

“Joe Root was standing next to me when I broke the bell and was laughing his head off,” said Mr Dennison, a father-of-two from Wakefield who retires officially after 30 years service on June 1.

“I must have been too excited, it was the string that came out, the piece of metal inside the bell.”

The West Yorkshire Police officer was given the honour on the second day of England’s opening Test of the summer against Sri Lanka, where he was on duty for his last day of active service.

He said: “It is a coincidence that I have done a lot of public order jobs at Headingley anyway. I am a cricket coach, that is one of the things that someone has latched onto, I coach local kids and I play cricket.

“It does get a bit lively at Headingley when they get going on the Western Terrace, we had to eject nine nuns on the Friday.

“The bronze commander in charge got wind of the fact that it was my last working day. He had been in touch with Yorkshire Cricket Club and asked them if there was anything they could do. There was a tannoy announcement about it and they let me ring the bell.”

As well as meeting the England team and being given a tour of the stadium’s impressive media facility, he got to meet cricketing legends Ian Botham and Michael Holding.

Asked about his future plans, he said: “There is nothing set in stone yet. I just feel like I am on holiday at the moment.”

Mr Dennison, originally from Pontefract, has been with the Leeds Outer East neighbourhood policing unit. Prior to that was with Rothwell NPT for eight years.

He started his policing career in 1986.