Ceremony to unveil restored monument to fallen officer

12th August 2017 5:00 AM
Retired police officer of 41 years Noel Sparks and his wife stumbled across the dilapidated grave of Senior Constable Henry James Fetheston when visiting the Maryborough Cemetery after the 2012 floods to check on Denise's great-grandmother's grave. Retired police officer of 41 years Noel Sparks and his wife stumbled across the dilapidated grave of Senior Constable Henry James Fetheston when visiting the Maryborough Cemetery after the 2012 floods to check on Denise's great-grandmother's grave. Boni Holmes

WHEN Noel Sparks stumbled across the dilapidated grave of a young policeman who died in 1885, he did not know he was starting a journey that would result in the official recognition of the officer's sacrifice.

Mr Sparks, himself a retired police officer, and his wife Denise visited Maryborough Cemetery in 2012 to check on Denise's great-grandmother's grave after the floods.

With a reading from Psalms and verses by Shakespeare on the side of the monument, Mr Sparks knew immediately that Senior Constable Henry James Fetheston, who was just 26 when he died, had been a well-respected member of the community.

He would spend the next five years working towards honouring Snr Const Fetheston's sacrifice and helping to ensure the monument marking the young man's grave would be completely restored to its former glory.

Yesterday a crowd of about 50 police officers, the restoration team, dignitaries and the public gathered to unveil the monument.

Snr Const Fetheston was born in Ireland and was sworn into the the Queensland Police Force in 1878 after migrating to Australia.

In 1879 he was posted to Maryborough.

Snr Const Fetheston was riding through the Police Paddocks in Tinana on February 23, 1885 when his horse bolted.

As he tried to calm him, he was thrown off, landing on a log before being crushed by the falling horse.

He was found at 5am and died at 7am the next day from internal injuries.

Just prior to Police Remembrance Day last year, his name was added to the Queensland Police Honour Roll and the national police Memorial in Canberra, acknowledging the officer had died while on duty.

After his death the community funded the monument that stands over his grave.

It was estimated that the monument would cost at least $70,000 to build if it was made today.

The well respected young man attended Maryborough's Anglican church regularly and was a member of the rowing club and a local cricket club.

They sought the help of Warren Harland of Wide Bay Memorials.

"We worked under his direction and Warren was responsible for the restoration of the stoneworks including the marble and sandstone on the monument," Noel said.