AN officer who helped support the family of a Barrow man who died in a collision has won a prestigious award.

Family Liason Officer PC Nick Johns has been named the winner of the Family Award in the 2020 FLO Awards for his outstanding commitment to supporting bereaved families.

The awards which are organised by the road safety charity, Brake, showcase best practice in supporting families following a road death or serious injury. PC Johns was nominated by the family of Barrow man John Harkins, who died following a collision in the Leeds area in November 2016.

The judges commended PC Johns for: going above and beyond to alleviate the stress that the Harkins family was exposed to following a road death, his compassion and commitment meaning the family felt supported at every stage of the process and for helping Mr Harkins' family work through their emotions in a healthy way.

Mr Harkins' family said PC Johns has become a 'massive part of their lives' during and after the case. PC Johns, who works in the Constabulary’s Tactical Support Group in south Cumbria, has conducted the FLO role for seven years in addition to his normal policing duties. He said: “This was such an unexpected honour and I am really touched and humbled that John’s family have gone to the effort to nominate me for such an award, when they are still grieving. We do not do this role for praise or recognition. “The role of a FLO is a challenging one, you are the person that presents a family with life-changing news and it is your role to guide and support them through such a traumatic time.

"Helping a grieving family understand the process and what has happened can be incredibly tough. However, it is a vital role which my colleagues in Cumbria and the wider policing service do to support families at such a difficult time.” Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “I would like congratulate to Nick for his fantastic and well-deserved achievement.

"The work of all FLOs in providing care to families when they need it most is essential and one which can go unseen by the majority of the public. “Nick’s award is particularly special as the initial nomination came from a family he supported. The comments from the judges underline just how important Nick has been to the family in helping them deal with such a tragic incident." Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, added: “I’m delighted for Nick that his outstanding dedication and commitment to the incredibly difficult challenge of being a family liaison officer has been recognised, rightly honoured and celebrated. “It is easy to be unaware of the many roles officers perform in support of the public and family liaison officer is possibly one of the most important, and challenging. “It is a difficult task to help families in times of incredible emotional difficulty when empathy, practical help and compassion are the key ingredients. “Nick has been an exemplar to us all and this public recognition is richly deserved."

PC Johns’ colleague and fellow family liaison officer PC Nicola Welton was also shortlisted for the Excellent Longstanding Service category.