Daily Express

After an eventful 30-year career, Sergeant Harry Tangye, 51, from Torbay, recently retired from Devon and Cornwall Police. From dealing with armed criminals and nightclub drunks to serving as a VIP protection officer guarding royals and heads of state, he


THE brief was simple. Look after a politician and his family while they were on holiday in Cornwall. It was a big name and while I don’t wish to give too much away, I can say they visited regularly. They had decided they wanted to try some kayaking and the Met Police officers were a little nervous as, being more city people, they hadn’t done much of that.

They were very pleased when I said I would tail the VIP. Being brought up on Cornish beaches, I was very familiar with the sport. I would be a shadow, so to speak, not interferin­g with his family’s experience but there to radio in our locations as we progressed down a very large river several miles long and a mile wide in places.

We were a couple of hours into the trip and all was going well. The Met crew were happy as they could see the progress from my reports.

It was then as we turned a large right-hand bend, the water became more choppy and I realised I was taking on water. I quickly radioed base camp and told them I would be fine making it to shore, but my VIP would have to carry on without me.

None of the public knew he was there, of course, so he was quite safe. My plan was to empty the kayak and catch up.

I managed to paddle ashore, emptied the kayak and looked for obvious cracks but there were none. So I threw the empty kayak into the water and jumped aboard, spinning my arms like a paddle steamer to catch the dots in the distance.

I could see my VIP family and hoped they’d been too busy having fun to notice my issues. But after another 20 minutes, I had that sinking feeling again… and it was happening fast.

I felt a small panic building. I aimed for a slipway from the beach to a yacht club but there was no time to use my radio. I needed every second to get myself over to that beach without sinking.

‘With seawater pouring out of my clothes, I strode through the posh party to the bar’

AHUNDRED metres from dry land the kayak flipped over, throwing me into freezing water. I grabbed the radio and pressed the transmit button to report my “Mayday, mayday” but it was dead.

I had to warn the team. When the VIP turned up without me, they would think the worst, especially as I’d told them earlier about having to empty my kayak.

This could soon be an internatio­nal embarrassm­ent. If I didn’t get word to my colleague, there would be air-sea rescue and lifeboats looking for this VIP’s bodyguard. I needed to avoid this at all costs, but how?

I grounded my upturned craft and, wringing wet, made for the yacht club to borrow a phone.As I opened the door it was clear there was an event happening, a posh one at that.With sea water pouring out of my clothes I strode confidentl­y straight through the party to the bar and said to the barman: “I seem to have sunk.Would you be so good as to lend me your phone, please?” He looked me up and down handed me the phone. Thirty minutes later, having phoned for help, I finally rolled up to the VIP venue, to my utter embarrassm­ent. Luckily he saw the funny side, calling me “Bob” for the rest of the evening.

THANKFULLY, other jobs have gone more smoothly.

I was six years into my service as a PC with Devon and Cornwall Police when I was sent to a potential burglary at a campsite in Paignton. Suspects were seen running away with portable TVs. I drove my panda car into the car park and caught sight of a man walking towards me with something heavy in his hands. I stopped the car, he looked at me, over the but years stopped walking, carrying and ran.

I pursued him on foot. I was pretty fit but, hell, this guy was fast, running full pelt along the main Dartmouth Road. I was concerned this was one I might have to give up on.

Then I saw a bus driving next to me, keeping a constant pace to mine. I looked at the driver – and the doors of the bus opened. I jumped on, thanked him, and said, “Follow that man!”

There was a sudden round of applause from the elderly passengers as the bus sped up. I could see the running man glancing back, obviously feeling he had lost me.

As we drew alongside, I launched myself from the doors of the bus on to his back.We both crashed to the ground and I sat on top of him like the proudest Cheshire cat in Paignton! And last year, I received a Judge’s dropped what he was

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