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Farmer ends emotional 650-mile journey to remember police officer brother who died after 14 years in coma

Jamie Alcock with Shire horses Millie and Willam in Elgin's Cooper Park. Photo: Jason Hedges/DCT Media
Jamie Alcock with Shire horses Millie and Willam in Elgin's Cooper Park. Photo: Jason Hedges/DCT Media

After 650 miles, 83 days and an unexpected eight-day spell in hospital, a farmer driving two Shire horses the length of the UK in memory of his brother has arrived at his emotional journey’s end.

Jamie Alcock arrived in Elgin on Friday following a personal trip to remember his brother John, who died in 2017 after 14 years in a coma.

The police officer was involved in a serious car crash while driving to Balmoral for royal protection duties in 2003.

In the devastating aftermath, police charities stepped up to support the family – even funding an extension to their Garmouth home to allow him to be cared in comfortable surroundings after three years in hospital.

John Alcock with partner Donna and son Callum.

For years, Mr Alcock has wanted to “give back” to repay the groups for the support that helped them so much.

And more than 200 people packed Elgin’s Cooper Park for his arrival with a police horse escort after a journey that has raised nearly £50,000 for emergency service charities.

‘It’s been a gradual thing, it hasn’t hit me at once’

Mr Alcock has long had aspirations to do a fundraiser to help repay the backing his family got.

The coronavirus pandemic brought the plight of charities into sharper focus for him.

So, on June 5 he set off for Elgin from his Gloucestershire farm with Shire horses Millie and Willam and dog Boo Boo to raise money for Police Care UK and the Fire Fighter’s Charity – even offering members of the public a ride in exchange for donations.

Jamie Alcock was welcomed to Elgin’s Cooper Park by more than 200 people. Photo: Jason Hedges/DCT Media

Along the way the significance of his journey, which included a visit to see his brother’s name on the Scottish police memorial in Fife, grew on him.

Mr Alcock, who grew up in Rothienorman, said: “It’s been a mix of feelings – a sense of achievement and a sense of sadness because the journey is over.

“The closer I’ve got to Elgin, Garmouth and Moray, the more I’ve thought about my brother.

“I don’t need to be by his graveside to know John is here – this is his home country. They are strong memories.

“It’s been a gradual thing. It doesn’t just hit you in a big bang, it’s been gradually building up the closer I’ve got.

“The real journey’s end will be when I go to visit my brother’s grave, which I’ll do privately.”

Hospital stay did not dent motivation

Throughout the journey Mr Alcock was, at times, staying in fields with Millie and Willam when accommodation was not available.

While in the Dundee area one night, something happened with the horses that led to the farmer being injured.

Mr Alcock, who has no memory of the incident, was knocked unconscious and taken by paramedics to hospital with 11 cracked ribs, fractures in four spinal bones and a partially collapsed lung.

I haven't been completely truthful.Something happened with the Heavies on Friday evening. I have no idea what and no…

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After an eight-day stay in hospital he was patched up and able to get back out on the open road.

However, he stressed that giving up and going home never crossed his mind while stressing his horses were the real heroes of the journey.

Mr Alcock said: “I never thought about not finishing it, even though it got a bit difficult at times.

“Life is about rolling with the punches, you learn how to roll with them and that’s what I’ve done with the journey.

“The deep sense of achievement is because of Millie and Willam’s achievement. Yes, I feel a bit for myself, but the focus in my mind has always been the charities and the safety of the horses.”

‘I totally believe in work the charities do’

More than £46,000 has been pledged by supporters to support the journey.

The money will be split with 75% going towards Police Care UK the remaining 25% going to The Fire Fighters Charity.

Both causes support serving and retired officers who are either injured or require emotional or mental help.

Mr Alcock said: “I totally believe in the work they do, I think it’s essential.”

David Hamilton, a trustee of Police Care UK, who was among the crowds in Elgin to welcome Mr Alcock, and told attendees the farmer’s accomplishment made him a valued member of the “police family”.

Jamie Alcock on the road with Millie and Willam and a police escort near Perth. Photo: Kenny Smith/ DCT Media

He said: “It’s been astonishing, but an emotional journey for him as well, he’s been doing it in memory of his brother who died a couple of years ago.

“For him to do this, is a fantastic honour to his brother but it also means so much to Police Care UK, which is one of the charities that supported his family.

“We’re a national charity and we’re there to assist police officers who have been harmed in the role of policing, whether through injury or accident.”

Donations to support Mr Alcock’s journey and Police Care UK and The Fire Fighters Charity can still be made online here

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