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Retiring head of crime: My next job certainly fits the Bill-ingham

Hero officer plans to reboot his life by leading football club into new era
Published - 06/02/2019 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

An officer who tackled a machete-wielding bank robber on his home turf and hailed a hero abroad after leading 15 terrified holidaymakers to safety from a blazing hotel is hanging up his policing boots after three decades of dedicated service.

But Chief Superintendent Paul Beddow has no plans to “go quietly” – swapping one set of action-packed footwear for another.

For the 51-year-old Durham officer plans to devote his ‘retirement’ to sporting duties – split between the ‘hot seat’ as chairman of his local football club and refereeing.

Away from the force, the Hartlepool-born superintendent is ready to “chuck himself” into lifting the fortunes of Billingham Town FC – currently in the ninth tier of English football.

His policing career began in 1990 when he joined Cleveland Police following a stint in engineering.

While at Cleveland, where he worked at all ranks in both operational, intelligence and CID roles, he received a commendation for tackling a man robbing a bank armed with a 14-inch bladed machete in his home town of Hartlepool.

In 2009, he joined Durham Constabulary as a superintendent where he led the partnerships team and most recently response and crime command.

During his 10 years at the Aykley Heads-based force, he also managed a range of specialist areas including crime operations, major, serious, volume and priority crime, scientific support and criminal justice and was responsible for 24/7 policing, firearms logistics and licencing, roads policing and custody.

His ‘on-duty’ heroics in Cleveland were more than matched when he hit the national headlines in July 2013 for his quick-thinking – credited with ultimately saving the lives of 15 holidaymakers in Turkey.

On a 10-day vacation himself, he woke to find the Baia Lara hotel, in Antalya, where he was staying, on fire with thick, black smoke billowing into his fourth floor room.

He opened the door into the corridor – which was pitch black due to a power cut – to find panicking holidaymakers desperate to find a way out.

Chief Supt Beddow then used the light on his phone to guide the terrified guests through the choking smoke and down flights of stairs, and outside to safety.

The father-of-two, who cites on social media being a senior officer as a "spare time" occupation, joked this week about the fire drama: “I have a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

But at the time, he recalled: “As soon as I looked out of the balcony and saw the black smoke I thought ‘we’re in serious trouble here’.

“I just knew we had to get out. It was horrendous. I’ve seen some sights in my time with the job and everything, but this was absolutely terrifying. It was the worst experience I’ve ever had.

“Listening to people screaming in despair, losing people and kids. It was really bad.”

Now the all-action character will be tested to the full when filling the new shoes of football club chairman.

Last February he found himself propelled into the top seat of Northern League Two club after a coup by the Billingham Town Supporters Trust.

The trust ousted the previous regime which had overseen the club relegated and rapidly decline on and off the field, with attendances slumping dramatically and losing its volunteer base.

The chief superintendent – a former manager of Hartlepool FC Reserves – was voted in as chairman to steady the Bedford Terrace-based club.

The club, in its relatively short 52-year existence, are previous Teesside League and Stockton & District League Two champions as well as trophy winners in the Northern League Cup, Durham Challenge Cup and Durham Amateur Cup.

He now hopes to concentrate on his new position, adding: “There’s plenty of work to be done with the club and I’m ready to chuck myself into it.”

Looking back on his 30-year in policing, he muses: “I’ve made so many memories while in Cleveland and Durham and the ones that really stand out for me is my posting as head of CID in my home town of Hartlepool, and being promoted to head of crime for Durham Constabulary.”

Finally, he accepts, while “loving every minute of my service”, and having “met some remarkable people, it is time for a new challenge”.

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