Derek Wootton remembered, 10 years on

Derek Wootton remembered, 10 years on

Loved ones, friends and colleagues of Sergeant Derek Wootton gathered yesterday to remember him on the tenth anniversary of his death.

Derek Wootton

Sergeant Derek

Derek was fatally wounded by a stolen car driven by a gang member as he laid road spikes in Titahi Bay, near Porirua, in the early hours of 11 July 2008.

The anniversary was marked with a ceremony, wreath-laying and breakfast at the Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC).

Among those attending was Derek’s partner Bronwyn Hewitt, who works in Police’s Northern Communications Centre, and brothers John Wootton, a local school principal, and Senior Constable Dave Wootton.

Inspector John Spence, Kapiti-Mana Area Commander at the time, and now secretary of the Derek Wootton Memorial Trust, says the turnout reflected the respect and affection for Derek among police and the community.

“He was a local Porirua man – he’d lived in Porirua a long time,” he says. “He was serving his community at the time he was killed doing his duty.”

The ceremony was led by Father Pene Patelesio in the RNZPC gym, where he conducted Derek’s funeral ten years ago. Minister and local MP Kris Faafoi and Acting Commissioner Mike Clement addressed the ceremony.

At the breakfast Kelvin Irvine, chair of Whitireia Foundation Trust, spoke about the trust’s work with the Derek Wootton Memorial Trust to support young people in education with grants and scholarships.

MP and former Police Association President Greg O’Connor, past patron of the trust, also spoke.

Wreaths were laid at the college’s Memorial Wall by Acting Commissioner Clement, Wellington District Commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle, Mike Oxnam, chair of the Derek Wootton Memorial Trust, Bronwyn Hewitt and John Wootton.

All speakers paid tribute to Derek’s role as a member of the Porirua community who dedicated himself to working for the community, particularly its young people.

His work lives on in the form of the Memorial Trust, which has raised more than $119,000 since 2010. In recent years it has worked in partnership with the Whitireia Foundation Trust.

“These are youngsters from Porirua who are being helped,” says John. “It was nice to be able to carry on Derek’s legacy in that way.

“The two young people the trust is supporting this year are studying for a Bachelor of Social Work degree. The idea is that we’re helping people who will help the community later.”

The proceedings were supported by the RNZPC waiata group and recruits from Wing 316, who performed a stirring haka at the Memorial Wall.

Yesterday evening The Loft, the former bar turned meeting area at Porirua Police Station, was renamed The Derek Wootton Loft to mark the anniversary.