The son of former Melton police officer Stewart Sparling, who died from motor neurone disease (MND) three years ago, will wear his father’s old collar number as he qualifies to join the force.
Pc Lewis Sparling was stunned when he was presented with a set of epaulettes bearing the number 111 at an attestation ceremony for trainees.
The collar number belonged to his father and was retired from service following his death, aged 44, and after he raised £50,000 to help fellow MND sufferers.
But Chief Constable Simon Cole sprang a surprise when he handed the epaulettes to Lewis in an emotional gesture witnessed by his mum Angie and sister Caitlin.
Lewis said afterwards: “Dad joined the force the year I was born in 1994 so I grew up listening to his stories and I’ve wanted to be a police officer for as long as I can remember.
“When dad passed away his collar number was retired so it is very emotional to be wearing it.
“I am sure Dad would be proud. I’d obviously rather have him here but wearing his collar number is the closest thing I can have.
“I knew the chief constable was going to say a few words about my dad but I didn’t expect him to present me with a set of epaulettes.
“It was a lovely, lovely thing to do. My Mum and my sister were blown away.”
Lewis has been a police PCSO since 2016 and he is now two weeks into his initial 17-week training programme to become a full time
His father, who was affectionately known as Stew, was a popular and hard-working Sergeant with Leicestershire Police before his death in June 2015.
Despite his illness, Stew launched a new charity called the Treble One Trust - named after his collar number - to raise money for specialist equipment for sufferers in the later stages of MND.
He raised more than £50,000 and his friends and family are continuing his legacy and still organising fundraising events to help others.
After presenting Lewis with his father’s collar number, Chief Constable Cole, said: “When Stew lost his heroic fight with motor neurone disease we retired his collar number and I was honoured to give 111 its last call at Stew’s funeral at the request of his family.
“Stew’s amazing work with the Treble One Trust continues thanks to his family and friends to support others with MND and it was very emotional to be able to give Lewis 111 as his collar number and to do so in the presence of his family and the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire.”