Warm tributes to Preston policewoman Bridget Gilmore after she loses her brave fight against cancer
Touching tributes have been paid to a committed detective who has lost her battle with cancer just five weeks after retiring from her 30 year career.
Det Sgt Bridget Gilmore, who was based at Preston's Police Operating Centre, was determined to continue serving the county despite her tragic diagnosis with breast cancer in 2019.
The mum-of-two, nicknamed Bridie by her friends, remained positive throughout her illness and worked throughout the first few stages of her gruelling chemotherapy.
When she officially retired from the force on September 16, she was not able to have a presentation due to the pandemic, but a long term colleague paid a visit to deliver a speech, gifts and cards.
Sadly, on October 24, Bridget, who was 51, passed away in the Royal Preston Hospital.
She is survived by her two sons, Adam, 22, and Ben, 19.
Today Adam said: " The best three words to describe her are supportive, selfless and caring.
"We’ll remember her as being so supportive and inspirational to us.
"She loved live music and dancing, she was always the first on the dance floor and last off it."
Bridget was born on January 30, 1969, and grew up with her five sisters and her mum and dad in Brookfield, Preston.
The St John Southworth High School pupil dreamed of being a detective from a young age - her family say she even used to try and memorise car registration plates.
Her sister Maureen said: "It was her sole ambition.
"She'll be remembered for her determination and positive attitude towards anything."
In 1987, Bridget applied to be a special constable and during the application process she met her best friend Sharon.
They trained together in the lead up to their application to become a police officer, agreeing they would join on the same intake.
Her childhood dream came true in 1990 when, alongside Sharon, she joined Lancashire Police.
They attended the police training centre at Bruche, Warrington, for 10 weeks, before heading back to Preston Police Station on Lawson Street.
Sharon recalls: " We hit it off straight away, and my first thought was how beautiful her auburn hair was.
"Class 9/90 commenced training and it was obvious that Bridget was selfless, she was always helpful to others in our Bruche days which no doubt helped them to succeed, and she continued to help others throughout her career.
"Her first response to anyone in need was always: “What can I do to help?”
"Bridget was someone who wouldn’t always tell you what you want to hear, but would always tell you what you needed to hear.
"She always smiled, her laugh was so infectious. Being in her company was always a pleasure and we laughed so much. She was stubborn and feisty at times, but overall she was warm, kind, supportive and affectionate.
"Her loyalty to her friends, despite her own illness, sums up why she was so loved - she was always thinking of others. I have never met anyone who was as strong as Bridget. I appreciated her wisdom, and I am proud to call her my ‘best friend’.
"She was so courageous during her fight with cancer. I will miss her dearly. "
The officer worked on several high profile cases in the county including Operation Hexton - a human trafficking probe into two young girls from Romania exploited by three men in Preston.
In 2016 she won the Frances Hendrix Award 2016 for Special Recognition for Women in Policing.
Speaking on behalf of the force, Det Insp Roger Ashcroft said: “ Bridget was a great person, mother and a fantastic detective who was dedicated to not only her role in helping the public but in helping and inspiring her colleagues.”
Away from work Bridget was a devoted mum to her two boys, bringing them up in the family home in Walton-le-Dale, and frequently taking them on holidays.
She was also a keen gym goer and runner.
Adam recalls: " We’ve been to loads of different places as we never went to the same place twice. Our favourite one I’d say is when we went to Lapland when I was about six of seven at Christmas time.
"One of Mum's favourite places was Beacon Fell. Even when she got ill she was still determined to try and go walking."
Bridget's funeral will take place at Brownedge St Mary's Church on Friday, and the service will be live streamed for those who cannot attend.
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