THE GRIEVING family of a Hampshire police officer who died in a cycling accident have spoken of their devastating loss.
Richard Phillips-Schofield's parents, brother and girlfriend said that the overwhelming love and support they have received since his death on Tuesday is helping them come to terms with the tragedy.
As reported by the Daily Echo, the hugely popular 33-year-old, who served at Bitterne police station, died 48 hours after coming off his race bike during a British Cycling event in which he was competing at the Mountbatten Centre, in Portsmouth.
He had been in a critical condition in hospital since Sunday afternoon where he was being treated for life-threatening head and chest injuries.
The statement from his parents, Elizabeth and Frederick, brother Eddie and girlfriend Hannah, reads: “We are overwhelmed by the love and support shown by Richard's friends, colleagues, community and fellow cyclists who have been making contact since we lost Rich on Tuesday.
“We were and always will be extremely proud of Rich, of what he achieved in his career and all of his personal and sporting achievements.
“He was a naturally gifted sportsman, and his great passion in life was for cycling, at which he was exceptional. Even more, we were proud of the man that he was.
“His loss is absolutely devastating, but the support everyone is showing is truly helping us.”
A book on condolence has now been set up on Hampshire Constabulary's website after the force received such an outpouring of sympathy from members of the public.
Superintendent James Fulton, district commander for Southampton police, said: “The last few days have shown the reality behind the term 'the police family'.
“The support from across the force, UK policing and the public in Southampton has been overwhelming.
“People in Southampton have been stopping officers in the street to show their support and express their condolences, and flowers have been left in tribute outside Bitterne Police Station.
“Rich's parents have told us that they are astonished with the compassion, kind thoughts and support they have received. Over the coming days we gather with them to remember Rich, reflect on his time with us and his outstanding career.”
The book can be found at hampshire.police.uk.