Tributes paid to tragic WPc (2024)

A police officer who tragically died while pregnant with twins was described as "caring and generous" at her funeral today.

Pc Sarah Underhill, 37, of Wallingford, died from complications during pregnancy on Sunday, October 5.

Doctors were able to deliver twins Hannah Louise and James Thomas by Caesarean section at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital. They are still in hospital.

Chief Constable Sara Thornton read a eulogy to Pc Underhill, who was married to fellow police officer Sgt Richard Underhill, at a police funeral with full honours at St John's Chapel, Oxford Crematorium, today.

She said: "Sarah was born and brought up in Oxfordshire. She lived with her parents Sybil and Arnold Whapham and was the youngest sister of Gillian and Claire. She clearly flourished in a warm, close and supportive family.

"From an early age her caring and generous nature was apparent.

"She cared greatly for people and was a Red Cross Volunteer long before she joined the police.

"She loved animals and at various times rescued cats, dogs, a pigeon and even a canary that repaid her kindness by biting her! She was horse mad and, as Gillian had already persuaded Mum and Dad to invest in a horse, Sarah spent many hours pursuing her hobby.

"And I know how important it is to the family that the police mounted section will pay their respects today.

"Sarah’s grandfather was a police officer in the Metropolitan Police Force and it was maybe this that inspired her, aged seven, to say that she wanted to be a policewoman when she grew up. But before she joined Thames Valley in 2003 there was a lot of living to be done. Sarah had huge energy and enthusiasm, she worked as an au pair in the United States and made sure that she travelled through every state while there, she also travelled all over the world to Australia, Canada and Fiji to name a few.

"When it came to a career, she knew she didn’t want to be an accountant like her two older sisters, didn’t want an office job, but wanted to help people to make a difference in their lives. Sarah studied for a degree in education at Oxford Brookes University and enjoyed her teaching practices at Wantage and Lambourne. She was also a member of the officer training corps while at university and enjoyed, or endured, manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain. But it was Thames Valley Police that she joined in May 2003.

"Sarah was a member of C and then E shift at High Wycombe before becoming a neighbourhood officer in 2006 and then a neighbourhood specialist officer in October 2007. Marlow was her patch and I know that the local community share in the loss of all her family and friends. Sarah was a kind, generous and helpful person and as part of the neighbourhood team had found her true vocation.

"I have heard about the way in which she didn’t just deal with ‘jobs’, but really cared for the individual,. There was a 14-year-old girl who had gone off the rails but deserved another chance. Sarah ensured that she was given that chance.

“I met Sarah when, in 2006, she received a Chief Constable’s Commendation for saving the life of a man who had been shot twice. With little regard for her safety, Sarah and two colleagues gave first aid and kept the man alive. This was typical of her desire to help, to calmly make a difference to the lives of others. I remember Sarah — she was a young woman who made an impression with her warmth and humanity.

"Sarah Underhill, as we all know, was a very special person and none are more aware of this than Richard. Richard and Sarah met in 2000 and were married in 2005. They both longed for a family and were so excited when Sarah was expecting not one but two. Richard told me yesterday that as he left Sarah on the day before she died she was so looking forward to becoming a mother – she was glowing. She would have been so proud of little James and Hannah.

"I am sure that everybody here feels blessed to have been part of Sarah’s life — a life that has so tragically been taken from us. We will all have our precious memories and we will find strength in those in the difficult time ahead."

Tributes paid to tragic WPc (2024)

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