IN what would have marked one year of working in Lithgow, Senior Constable Kelly Foster is instead being remembered with a memorial wall situated outside of Lithgow Police Station.
It was a tragic start to the New Year when the highly regarded police officer lost her life, while trying to save another. Sen Const Foster died while attempting to rescue her 24 year-old companion from a whirlpool at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains.
She paid the ultimate sacrifice and to show their recognition of Kelly's service and acknowledging the person she was, her colleagues, family and local businesses have come together on a joint project.
The memorial will be located at the entrance of the station behind the police sign and flagpole. It will be made of bricks and feature a plaque, a sandstone pavement, lighting, a garden and a place to lay flowers.
Kelly's sister Leigh Foster said the memorial was instigated by Sen Const Mick Barr and Sen Const Jim McMillan.
"They mentioned building a memorial and we thought it was a great idea, my dad Terry and brother David are both builders so it was suggested we help out with the building of it and it just kind of went from there," she said.
David said he loved more than anything to be involved and help out in creating a space to remember his sister.
"Mick gave us a call and I offered if we could be of any assistance and help them out as much as they're helping us out, because all the local police up there have been really supportive and we couldn't ask for anything more than what they've done for us," he said.
The project is set to be completed in a few weeks with Lithgow police hosting working bees with the Foster family.
"We were up there last weekend preparing the site, clearing the garden that was there and then started on the footings for the wall, just recently we visited again and it's starting to take shape, it's been a really nice joint project that we've been able to work on together," Leigh said.
Leigh said it meant a lot to her and her family that Kelly's colleagues wanted to create a memorial for her.
"They want to make sure she's remembered and honoured. It means a lot to me that they felt that way about Kelly, that she was an important member of their team and an important person.
"It's a nice tribute, but also I think a nice thing for the station that they can go in and maybe sit there on anniversaries or put flowers down," she said.
"It's a little place for them that's close to them, where they can remember her as well," Leigh said.
Kelly's mother Marilyn said it was wonderful that her colleagues thought so much of her, although she hadn't worked at the Lithgow station for a long time.
"Kelly was the sort of person that touched everybody and once you'd known her you felt like you'd known her forever," she said.
Her father Terry said she took her job as a police officer very seriously and he was touched by the way the community has remembered his daughter.
"That's the thing that really blew me away, when all the shopkeepers came out when, when Kelly's funeral procession went past as a sign of respect for her.
"And there was also a case when someone that she arrested a few weeks before turned up to the station to report and he brought flowers for her and a card, he said she treated him like a normal person and with respect," Terry said.
The Foster family encouraged community members to lay flowers and use the memorial as a place of their tributes as well.
They also wanted to thank local businesses and Lithgow Police who have helped in making the project a reality.
"We'd like to thank Lithgow police for all their support they've just been amazing through the whole thing and Mick in particular he's been really supportive from the first day that it all happened and being there for our family," Leigh said.
Sen Const Jim McMillan said as a station, as friends and colleagues of Kelly it was important to remember her.
"By having this memorial it means she is always sort of with us. It will be a place where we can put flowers and all sorts of tributes around Police Remembrance Day and around the anniversary of Kelly's passing.
"It's something so she's always thought of," he said.
Sen Const McMillan said besides the obvious of keeping Kelly's memory alive it was also a constant reminder to the public of the sacrifices that police make from time to time.
"People don't see it all the time but there's a lot of time where we do put our lives at risk to help the community. That's what we sign the oath for and unfortunately, sometimes we pay the ultimate price.
"And that's what happened with Kelly. We want to recognise the person that she was and the police officer that she was, and give something back to her and to her family," he said.
Lithgow Police and the Foster family wanted to thank the following:
- Jim McMillan Bricklaying
- Paul at Goodearth Landscaping and Building Supplies
- GBH Contracting
- Lithgow Landscape and Produce Supplies
- Coates Hire Wallerawang
- Hanson - Ready Mix Concrete Lithgow
- Havit Lighting
- Telsco Electrical
- Wayne Martin Electrical
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