As Staffordshire Police Federation rep Claire Bond prepares to take on her third Light the Lakes - an annual event which raises money for COPS (Care of Police Survivors) - she speaks of her determination to be part of the fundraiser for as long as she possibly can.

Branch treasurer and wellbeing lead Claire will be climbing The Old Man of Coniston, a 2,600-foot fell in the Lake District, as part of this year’s challenge, which is taking place across 23 and 24 June.

Light the Lakes brings together groups of both serving and retired police officers, as well as friends, who - between them - climb all 214 Wainwright fells in the Lake District, before lighting a blue flare at the top, in honour of fallen colleagues.

“I think there are so many reasons I’m so passionate about Light The Lakes,” said 51-year-old Claire.

“As well as paying tribute to fallen colleagues, making that climb is my way of recognising that I’m still here and in one piece.”

Claire was left with serious injuries after being crushed by a car and dragged along the ground in 2018, after the brave officer risked her life when she responded to reports of a stolen vehicle.

The mother-of-four, who was pulled to safety by her colleague, then had to undergo a five-hour operation to save her shattered leg.

“Although I didn’t personally need support from COPS, I know others aren’t as lucky. This is my way of raising money for COPS, while being with friends and family and showing my gratitude. I see doing this as my way of saying thank you to everyone who was there for me when I needed them,” continued Claire.

“I’m just so grateful I kept both of my legs and I will continue to take part in the event for as long as I possibly can.”

Claire said she did not realise just how emotional and challenging the climb would be.

“I’m nearly in tears sometimes. Each year, Light the Lakes inspires me to push myself past my barriers,” she continued.

“It’s both mentally and physically exhausting - I really have to push myself, I don’t think people appreciate just how hard it is for me.

“And then, when you light a flare at the top, it’s so peaceful. It’s hard to explain but everyone is there, silently paying their respects to those who are no longer with us. I didn’t realise just how emotional the whole experience would be.”

Claire’s husband Darren, a West Midlands Police officer, joins her for the climb each year.

“Darren is an honorary Staffs member for this event. He goes off in front and makes sure the route is OK for us and takes up the tents. I’m left with the important job - carrying the prosecco,” added Claire.

So far, ‘Team Staffs’ have already raised more than £1,200 for the charity, (with a total of over £10,00 from the last three years) with a self-proclaimed competitive Claire more determined than ever to be the top fundraiser and top team.

Donate to ‘Team Staffs’ by visiting their JustGiving page.