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My brother, Jack Frost, who has died aged 73 from liver cancer, was a village bobby and a fine example of an aspect of English rural life that has gone for ever, swept away by police budget cuts.

Jack worked the beat in Tisbury, Wiltshire, a picture-postcard village on the edge of Salisbury Plain. Today, police cars from Salisbury occasionally patrol the village, and the local police station is normally closed. But for nearly a quarter of a century, between 1972 and 1996, Jack was on duty, living and working in the village. Despite passing his sergeant’s exam, he always refused promotion so as to stay in Tisbury. His proud boast was that he had the lowest arrest rate of any serving police officer he knew. Many who grew up in Tisbury say his light but firm touch, with a warning rather than an arrest, kept them on the straight and narrow.

Born in north-west London, Jack was the oldest of three children of Fred, a clerk, and Cicely (nee Nobbs), a factory worker. In 1948 he went to the Keble Memorial primary school in Harlesden, then won a scholarship to Dame Alice Owen’s school, Islington.

After leaving school Jack worked for a year on a farm in Arborfield, Berkshire, in preparation for agricultural college. Unfortunately, he was unable to go for financial reasons, and instead found work in a local paint factory.

In 1964, Jack met Teresa Mullen, a teacher, at a party. They married a year later and moved to Burnley, Lancashire, Teresa’s home town. Jack initially took a job in a mill at Barnoldswick, but then in 1966 joined Burnley borough police (now part of Lancashire Constabulary).

The couple moved to Salisbury in 1970, when Jack transferred to Wiltshire police, and then to Tisbury two years later. In 1981 Jack made national headlines after he was decisively elected to Tisbury parish council. He had obtained permission to stand, but senior officers changed their minds and forced him to resign after just one day.

After his retirement in 1996, he was always out and about in Tisbury, on his vintage police pushbike, with Teresa on their tandem, or on his lovingly restored LE Velocette – the legendary police Noddy bike.

police

He worked his own large and productive vegetable and flower plots as well as helping many older villagers with their gardens and serving as a volunteer groundsman at the village bowls club.

Jack is survived by Teresa, their five daughters, Kathryn, Joanne, Rachel, Lydia and Julia, and 13 grandchildren.

Peter Frost

This tribute first appeared in the Guardian Other Lives section on 6 December 2016. 

 

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