South Shields Pc pounds his last beat after 30 years
A police officer in South Tyneside who refused to let a setback deter him from gaining his dream job, has pounded the beat for the last time.
At 18-years-old Tony Joyce applied to join Northumbria Police but was turned down because of a lack of ‘life experience’.
He went on to work with Customs and Excise but decided to try again for a place on the force - and has now finished a 30-year stint.
Throughout his career, Pc Joyce has worked within the force’s area support team, in surveillance and in CID.
It was the role within the newly formed Arson task Force that saw him head to South Tyneside.
Working alongside Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service - together they helped to slash arsons in the area by 75%
Pc Joyce added: “It was one of the most rewarding jobs we did. It was so different looking at what the cause of the fire was.
It led me to do a Master Degree in fire investigation.
Pc Joyce started his police career at the age of 25 and- after undergoing initial training - hit the beat starting as a 24/7 response officer in Blaydon before moving to Whickham then Birtley.
The reality of the job and the dangers officers face on the streets hit home when he was one of the first on the scene when Sergeant Bill Forth was murdered, 25 years ago.
The dad-of-two had responded to a call in Gateshead when he was attacked and stabbed through the heart.
Pc Joyce, said: “When that happened, I remember waking up the next morning and the reality of the job I was doing hit me.
“It hit home that we are literally putting our lives on the line whenever we go out. The job he was responding to was stones being thrown at windows and it ended up costing him his life.”
After leaving the Arson Task Force behind and a spell in CID he took on the role of neighbourhood beat manager, working in Hebburn, Boldon and eventually South Shields where he finished his career.
He also became a family liaison officer.
Pc Joyce said: “With the neighbourhood role, you can get out there and really make a difference and help make a difference to people’s lives. It is such a rewarding role to be in.
“Becoming a FLO also added to the role as an officer, supporting families in the worst possible situation and coming away hoping in some small way you have helped them.
“Leaving the force behind is weird. To think I have driven through the gates for the last time. It is strange but I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”