The bells at St James Church rang to mark the start of a memorial service in honour of a Trowbridge policeman killed in the churchyard by a burglar 30 years ago.

Family members, former work colleagues and senior Wiltshire Police officers gathered at the Trowbridge church on Sunday, for the service dedicated to PC Des Kellam, who died on October 3, 1979, after being struck with a billhook by 19-year-old David Octavius James.

PC Kellam, who was 31, managed to call for help, but he died at the scene from his injuries.

Three decades later, his mother Ruth, 87, sister Gina Derry, former wife Jean Wilkins, 59, and daughter Elaine Champion, 40, gathered for the service led by Wiltshire Police chaplain, Rev Richard Armitage.

Mrs Derry, who lives in London, said: “For me not being in Trowbridge any more, it was very emotional being there and seeing everyone again.

“Of course it brought back some terrible memories but it was nice to think that after all this time Des is being remembered and this service was held.

“It was a faultless service."

It also proved to be an emotional affair for Mrs Champion, who heard tributes paid to her father, as well as details of the incident which claimed his life.

Her mother, Mrs Wilkins, of Oldfield Road, Westbury, said: “Elaine was a bit sad because she was 10 years old when it all happened and she didn’t really know her dad.

“You had your private thoughts during the service.

“I recognised some officers who worked with Des and I spoke to the sergeant who was on duty that night he died.”

Inside the church, underneath a plaque dedicated to PC Kellam, stood a photo of him in his uniform and another taken at his passing out parade, which was next to a floral tribute from Wiltshire Police.

During the service, addresses were made by Wiltshire Police’s Chief Constable Brian Moore and Wiltshire Police Federation chairman, Cath Hollands.

Christopher Hoare, chairman of the Wiltshire Police Authority, read a poem called The Gift, by Sherry Flynn and PC Kellam’s friend Maurice Davey, a retired police officer, read Philippians Chapter 4.4-9 from the Bible.

*More photos and a fuller report of the service will be in this week's Wiltshire Times.