Police tribute for former JNF UK chief and CST volunteer following his death

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Police tribute for former JNF UK chief and CST volunteer following his death

There was a police guard of honour for their colleague Simon Winters this week after he lost his battle with brain cancer

Simon Winters was a Special Sergeant with Hertfordshire Police
Simon Winters was a Special Sergeant with Hertfordshire Police

Police officers held a guard of honour for CST volunteer and former longstanding head of JNF-UK this week, after he lost his battle with cancer at the age of 62.

Simon Winters, a flying and motor racing enthusiast who was awarded an OBE in 2009 for his charitable work, volunteered as a Sergeant with Hertfordshire Police from 2018, continuing even while suffering from terminal brain cancer.

He was named Special Constable of the Year – one of two police awards he won – as colleagues this week gave him a guard of honour, attended by the Chief Superintendent, Chief Inspector, Inspectors, Sergeants, Police Constables and Police Community Support Officers, many of whom worked with Winters.

“The loss of Special Sergeant Simon Winters leaves a huge void within Hertfordshire Constabulary,” said Hertsmere Chief Inspector Mark Bilsdon. “Simon was an exemplary Special and won Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Special Constable of the Year twice. He volunteered endless hours to keeping the public safe and in 2021, he recorded well over 1,000 duty hours. This is an astounding amount and goes far beyond the annual minimum annual expectation of 200 hours.

“As the vice-chair, Simon was a key figure in the Hertfordshire Jewish Police Association, a support organisation that he helped create. He will be greatly missed by his fellow Specials and the wider constabulary including all of us at Hertsmere.”

Winters was “a long-standing, dedicated and inspiring volunteer” for the Community Security Trust (CST) and its predecessors from the 1980s onwards, said the antisemitism charity’s chief executive, Mark Gardner.

“He was instrumental in establishing and leading the security team at Borehamwood & Elstree Synagogue (BES) and in Hertfordshire more widely, supported by his wife Susie. His commitment to the community and willingness to help others was regularly seen in the help he and his team would offer to other synagogues or regions who were short of volunteers.”

Simon Winters receiving his OBE in 2009

Winters helped to organise one of the first joint CST/Police patrols for the High Holy Days, said Gardner, adding: “Throughout all of this, Simon was the embodiment of the volunteer ethos and dedication to community to which we all aspire. We will miss him greatly and will always value and appreciate his contribution to keeping our Jewish community safe.”

Winters also worked with the British Friends of the Jaffa Institute and was instrumental in setting up Petra’s Place, a nursery and early intervention centre for children with autism, which was founded by Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter Petra Ecclestone, who this week sent flowers and a card.

The Petra Ecclestone Foundation said she was “deeply saddened” by news of Winters’ passing, adding: “A charismatic and kind-hearted leader, his dedication to charities throughout his career was admirable. He will be sorely missed by all those whose lives he touched.”

He is perhaps best known in the community for being the long serving chief executive of JNF UK, before parting ways with the organisation in 2008, shortly after the arrival of its new chairman, Samuel Hayek.

Friend Craig Lawrence was one of 400 people who attended his funeral at Bushey New Cemetery this week, led by BES Rabbi Alex Chapper, and paid tribute online to “a super family man”. Lawrence added: “The guard of honour was priceless. Hopefully he will remain an example to us all of dedication and commitment.”

Speaking after the service, Chapper said: “Simon made an incredible contribution, not only locally but also to the wider community. He spent a huge part of his life working to ensure the safety and security of other people as well as helping to raise a significant amount for Israel.

“The tributes that have been made and the respect shown to him by his colleagues on his passing mean that he created a tremendous Kiddush Hashem. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten. May his memory be a blessing.”

Former Maccabi GB chief executive Martin Berliner, who worked closely with Winters in the early 2000s, paid tribute to Winters for having “great vision”. He said: “I was sad to hear of the news of Simon’s untimely passing. JNF became our first principal sponsor in 2001 and remained so for several years, which allowed us to build a professional framework that remains in-place today.”

An Elstree resident, Winters spent most of his career in the non-profit sector, fundraising around £12 million for JNF UK, where he oversaw high-profile events involving the participation of well-known figures such as Bill Clinton.

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