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Richie is top of the cops

Saturday 12 September 2009

He juggles a life on the track with a life on the beat – and he’s just been named South Wales’ top cop. Cardiff AAC's Ritchie Gardiner has high hopes of qualifying for the 2010 Commonwealth Games after being ranked Wales’ best marathon runner, and the fifth best in Britain. But the popular community sergeant has already won top honours closer to home for his sterling work in Merthyr and Rhondda Cynon Taf. He was named Police Officer of the Year by South Wales Police for his crime-busting efforts to tackle antisocial behaviour, off-road motorcycling and the problem of grassfires. He has also increased community engagement with hard-to-reach groups. Sgt Gardiner said: “I was so shocked to receive this award. It means such a lot to me.

“Being involved in community work provides a great deal of job satisfaction. It’s your personal involvement that gets results and that’s very rewarding.”

A police officer for 13 years, he lives in Aberdare and is married to Rhianydd, a school teacher. They have two boys Iwan, seven, and Tomas, four.

He added: “I always wanted to be a police officer, I felt it was my calling.”

A former pupil at Aberdare Boys Comprehensive Sgt Gardiner went on to Cardiff University where he achieved a degree in Recreation and Leisure Management.

Away from his local beat, though, he is best known for his sporting achievements.

Having run competitively since the age of nine, he now runs 150 miles a week and has a clutch of national marathon titles.

He jets off to Berlin next week for an event that he hope will seal his qualification for both the 2010 European Championships and the Commonwealth Games. “To receive this award and then qualify for the 2010 events would make this a very special year,” he said.

His work with the local authority and community on a Safer Schools Parking initiative has already been commended by Assembly Transport Minister Ieuan Wynn Jones as best practice for the whole of Wales.

Sgt Gardiner was presented with his trophy at a prestigious annual awards ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff where South Wales Police recognised the outstanding achievements of officers, staff and partner agencies.

Chief Constable Barbara Wilding said: “All winners and finalists have made a tremendous difference to communities across South Wales in reducing crime and keeping our streets safe.”

The above is taken from an article in today's South Wales Echo.