IPA UK Member David King shares Memories of a Secret Special Mission to Gibraltar

15 Sep 2021


ukgib1I had booked a trip to Gibraltar in February 2021 for a special reason, which was to marry my partner of 16 years, Caroline. We both wanted a secret wedding, which with the Covid regulations at that time restricted attendance to 15 anyway.

Gibraltar was on the UK green list, so there were no travel restrictions. Having met some IPA members from Gibraltar at an IPA Friendship tour in Canada a few years previously, I contacted Henry Sacramento, IPA member from Gibraltar, who recommended a wedding event organiser to arrange our Registry Office wedding for us. A date for our wedding was fixed for 9th June 2021.
Arrangements were made for flights and a hotel for 6th to 12th June, staying at The Rock Hotel in Gibraltar. In February, I then completed the IPA travel form stating that I would like to meet up with some IPA members whilst we were there.

The Chairman of the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) and IPA Gibraltar President, Sgt Craig Philbin contacted me, and arrangements were made to meet some IPA members during our stay. Both Craig and his deputy Sgt Paul Clarke were very helpful prior to us travelling to Gibraltar.

We arrived on the 6th June and stayed at the wonderful Rock Hotel, which is steeped in history. The following day we had to do complete official paperwork for our wedding on 9th June. It was then arranged that we would meet Paul Clarke at the RGP Police and IPA bar on the 10th.

On the day of our wedding, we met IPA member PC Nick Warner, who was on duty near the registry office. I thought it was crowd control for our wedding! But alas, no.

The registrar had worked with the police in an official capacity, and as a result made the ceremony very friendly with lots of laughter, although I was locked in until I signed the register! It was all smiles after I had afterwards, as you can see, and it was a wonderful and memorable day for both of us.

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The following day, 10th June, Gibraltar celebrated the Queen’s birthday, so the Police were very busy with parades, which was interesting to see. We then went to the RGP Police and IPA bar to meet Sgt Paul Clarke and his lovely wife Sharon. We exchanged some gifts and had a lovely time in their company. Paul and Sharon are both ex-Metropolitan Officers who transferred to RGP 3 years ago. Paul is a Detective Sergeant in charge of Domestic Violence and the witness support unit. It was very interesting to hear about his work, and how different for the pair of them working in Gibraltar ukgib4compared to the Met. I was surprised how many officers have transferred to Gibraltar, but then the law there is very similar to the UK. It was wonderful to experience the Police and IPA bar, which brought back very fond memories for me of when we in the UK had police clubs/bars, where officers and families could relax and enjoy themselves in their own environment. It was also a place where officers could talk openly about their work and some of the difficult and stressful jobs they had dealt with on duty. I believe such a club was a stress relief/breaker where problems were shared and suggestions of how to handle situations were given by those officers who had experienced such situations. I feel this what is lacking for today’s officers, who are having to deal with so much stress and violence in their duties, but have nowhere to openly talk to colleagues in such an environment as police clubs/bars.

Gibraltar is steeped in history and has a lot to offer to visitors, and IPA Gibraltar were very helpful to us at a time when they were busy. Police and IPA bar and club, they even have their own IPA bouncy castle, but I was too young to use it they said!!!

I cannot thank our wonderful IPA association enough. I have been a member since 1985, and have travelled a lot through IPA friendship tours, as well as this time on my own, and making contact with IPA members in Gibraltar.

I highly recommend our wonderful association for its friendship nationally and especially Internationally. There is always a smiling face to either assist or help you with almost anything anywhere in the world where there are IPA members.

David King, member IPA UK