Tributes paid to community hero and police officer Neville Halford

Neville Halford, who served as a police officer and was a member of several Banbury organisations has died, aged 90. NNL-191009-114714001
Neville Halford, who served as a police officer and was a member of several Banbury organisations has died, aged 90. NNL-191009-114714001

A community hero who committed to a life of service in the police force and was an active member of several Banbury organisations has died aged 90.

Neville Halford, who was born in 1929, served as a gunner in the Royal Artillery between 1947 and 1949 and joined the Oxfordshire Constabulary in 1956 after working for the Gloucester County Planning Department and in his parents family grocery store in Carterton for a time.

He served as a police officer for 28 years, initially as the village bobby in Bampton, near Witney. From 1958 to to 1959 he volunteered to join the police forces in Cyprus during the Emergency, a Greek-Cypriot revolt in favour of union with mainland Greece, which ended in Cyprus being declared an independent republic.

He joined Banbury CID in 1966, where he served for 16 years, then spent two years as a community officer, before retiring in 1984 at the age of 55.

He married his wife, Rose on August 24, 1950, when Rose was 20 and Neville was 21. They had five children – Sarah, Nicholas, Jeremy, Alison, and Roger – 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. The couple celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary this year.

Daughter Alison said: “He loved ballroom dancing, and he and Rose moved together with a lightness and grace that would challenge any on Strictly! He had a bone-deep commitment to his family, his community and his country.”

Neville combined his love of judo and community by founding the Banbury Judo Club in 1975. All of his own children (except Sarah) were founding members.

Throughout his career he proudly retained the rank of constable keeping his direct contact with the people who needed him.

After retirement, he formed the Cherwell Detective Agency working with many of the town’s solicitors. He became a member of the Institute of Professional Investigators.

After closing the business in 1994, Neville’s career as a volunteer expanded. He was both chairman and a field worker for Age Concern (now Age UK).

Alison said: “Elders who turned to him found a ready ear and a deft hand. He brought his many years of local knowledge and connections to this work, as he did for Banbury Charities and the Citizens Advice Bureau. He was the inspiration behind the Age Concern publication 50+ ways… A Directory of Resources for Older People and Their Carers, an invaluable resource for Oxfordshire’s senior citizens.”

He was also an active member of Cherwell Lodge 599 Freemasons Banbury, Round Table, 41 Club, Probus, Compton Club and NARPO (National Association of Retired Police Officers), who draped their banner over Neville’s coffin.

His life of service was recognised when he was named in the Banbury Guardian as a Millennium Hero. And in 2005 Neville and Rose were honoured by an invitation to a tea party at Buckingham Palace.

Alison added: “He was a man with a huge heart and a strong will, which he gave tirelessly to family and community.

“In his later years, Neville benefited from some of the charities he had served including Age UK, and the Macular Degeneration Support Group, and the able services of the Alzheimer’s Society.”

He became a world traveller, spending a month or more with each of his children living in Australia, Hungary, Spain, and in the USA, Maine and Hawaii.

As dementia stripped him of his memory and overwhelmed his family’s ability to care for him, Neville was placed in the care of the Julie Richardson Nursing Home in Banbury where he spent his final three years.