Bobbies on the bouef! How Jules thanks the police

Just over two years ago, a motorcyclist died in a horrifying crash on the A682 in Long Preston, North Yorkshire - one of Europe’s most dangerous stretches of road.

Jules Marley in the kitchen at Skipton Police Station. Picture by Simon Hulme

In dark, damp conditions, in the middle of the countryside, police traffic officers spent five hours at the scene.

But they were given relief from the woman who tried to help the motorcyclist, Jules Marley, who opened up her home to officers, providing tea, coffee and somewhere to rest, while they dealt with what had become for them, an all too regular, but the most difficult, part of their job.

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In the days following the crash, Mrs Marley watched a television programme which showed police on the beat, being spat at and abused by drunks, and was moved into action - knowing what horrors they must face on a daily basis. That Saturday night, she went along to Skipton Police Station just as the shift was changing and cooked the force a thank you meal in its outdated, cramped kitchen - with all the food sourced locally and the majority produced by Mrs Marley herself at her farm.

“After the crash, I was offered counselling, but they had to go back the next day, knowing that they would probably face the same thing again and again,” said Mrs Marley, who is chairman of the CPRE Craven.

“That first supper started a bit quiet but within ten minutes or so the noise level erupted and they are started chatting and laughing, It was lovely, a small way of showing that they are appreciated.”

Five more ‘Feed the Police’ suppers later, and the event has become something the station looks forward to.

Over the Tour de France Grand Depart weekend, officers were treated to Boeuf Bourguignon - minus the wine in case they were called out on a job - with dauphinoise potatoes, and the feast last Christmas included Christmas cake, cheese and mince pies donated by the people of nearby Hellifield.

Eventually Mrs Marley hopes to extend Feed the Police to the other emergency services, but to do that, she requires sponsorship.

“I think people would be shocked to know that our emergency services, out here in the sticks, survive on sandwiches and take-aways,” said Mrs Marley. “There are no canteens, and they eat whenever they can fit it in because there ain’t no such thing as a guaranteed meal break.

“It’s been a huge learning curve for me - catering on a decrepit oven in a minuscule kitchen but somehow it works. The food always has to be able to be stopped and restarted if they are called away.”

On Saturday, Mrs Marley will be cooking a Yorkshire Feast, with roast beef from her own cows, 60 Yorkshire puddings and apple pies, which will be served, as tradition dictates, with Wensleydale. A collection will be made for the Police Benevolent Fund.

Traffic Constable Paul Cockerill was one of the officers that attended the crash outside Mrs Marley’s house.

He has attended every Feed the Police supper and said their was “amazement” at the first event.

“We’d never had anybody come and do something like this before. The effort she puts in is astounding,” he said. “The quality of the food is out of this world - much better than a soggy sandwich on the run.

“Unfortunately nowadays, it’s few and far between that we get any appreciation. People often only see a negative side.”

If you can help sponsor a future event, email her at [email protected]

JUST a month ago, a motorcyclist and his passenger wife were the latest fatalities on the A682, dubbed one of the most dangerous in Britain.

Traffic Constable Paul Cockerill attended both that crash, and the one outside Mrs Marley’s house that prompted Feed the Police. In 2007, the A682 was named as ones of the most dangerous stretches of road in Europe, and last year, the stretch from the M65 in Nelson, Lancashire, to Long Preston, was named the third most dangerous in Britain.

TC Cockerill said: “The aftermath of a tragedy can be very traumatic, you never get used to dealing with it. But for a traffic officer, it is something that you have to deal with on a regular basis. You have to just carry on.”