Memorial to police officer Matt Ratana is unveiled at Croydon service

·3-min read
Georgina Pender stands in front of the artwork she created (Met Police)
Georgina Pender stands in front of the artwork she created (Met Police)

A memorial to police sergeant Matt Ratana which was hand-made by young people has been unveiled at the custody suite where he worked.

Sgt Ratana’s partner Su Busby was at a memorial service at Croydon Custody Centre and was shown the artwork for the first time.

The tribute was inspired by the officer’s 29-year policing career and the impact his death - after he was fatally shot - had on others.

It features a starburst of almost 170 epaulettes which were left as a mark of respect by emergency services and military personnel who visited the building in the weeks following his death to pay their respects.

The epaulettes include those of UK police forces, police from Matt’s country of birth New Zealand, and UK emergency and military services. There is also a wooden representation of Croydon where he served the community for five years.

In recognition of the officer’s Maori heritage and his personal attributes, the map features a large silver fern leaf – a Maori symbol for strength and enduring power.

The memorial artwork was created by three Croydon College students as a result of a project run by Matt’s colleagues and the college in January this year.

Georgina Pender, 18, from Lambeth, was at the unveiling. She researched the officer’s heritage and contributed the silver fern symbol.

Sergeant Matt Ratana (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)
Sergeant Matt Ratana (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

She said: “In making the artwork I learnt that even after bad things happen, there are a lot of good things that can come from it. It was interesting to see how much people loved this man I’d never heard of before.

“The artwork was a joint effort with police officers. It was nice to give something back.”

Su Busby said: “I want to thank the students for the inspiring and imaginative collage they designed and created. I hope everyone enjoys this amazing piece of art depicting the fern, a symbol representing New Zealand where Matt came from, and made from the epaulettes donated by police officers and emergency services, commemorating Matt’s lifelong commitment to the police service which he was so proud to belong to.

“I’m grateful for everyone’s continued kindness, support and love in all our loss.”

Sgt Ratana was fatally wounded at Croydon Custody Centre on 25 September, 2020.

A memorial service was held on Friday, led by Reverend Prebendary Jonathon Osborne, Met Senior Chaplain.

Met Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy, and Commander Dave Stringer – police lead for Croydon – were among the attendees who paid their respects by laying flowers on the Matt Ratana memorial bench outside Croydon Custody Centre.

Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, Commander for Croydon, said: “The students have done a wonderful job of capturing what Matt stood for and how people far and wide were affected by his tragic death.

“Matt was a larger-than-life character, with a real passion for helping others, so it was fitting to invite young Croydon community members to create a tribute to his legacy.

“Every day, colleagues will look at this spectacular artwork and they will remember Matt and be inspired to make a positive difference to others’ lives in the way he did with such inexhaustible enthusiasm.”