Posted on 4th August 2022 at 13:31
Former Chief Superintendent Dennis Pollard passed away on 19 July 2022.
Dennis was an outstanding boxer at light-heavyweight, twice London’s ABA Champion, winning four England caps. In November 1961 aged 27 he fought for GB alongside Billy Walker, Dick McTaggart and Alan Rudkin to beat the USA team 10: 0 at Wembley Pool
In 1962, he captained the England Boxing Team at the Commonwealth games in Perth, Australia and in 1963 was chosen as the UK Standard bearer at the Moscow European Championships.
He took up long distance running in 1982 aged 48, running 5 marathons including the London event of 1985 – aged 51 - where he put in his best time ever of 3 hours and 17 minutes!
He was posted largely to North London Divisions with a tour at CO D8 as an instructor at Hendon in the early 1970s.
Dennis has two children – Debra and Alan - by his first and late wife, Jean, before remarrying his present wife of 43 years Pamela, and three grandchildren.
Dennis was rising 88 at the time of his recent death arising out of complications over a period of some seven years with vascular dementia.
Eulogy to Dennis Edward Pollard
It is a rare privilege to be invited to pay tribute to my friend and professional colleague, Dennis. I liked him very much as a friend and admired him as a senior police officer; I was always slightly in awe of his physical prowess. You will hear this afternoon quite a lot about his boxing; you will hear also about his long distance running and his golf. These are three very self-reliant sports. Although Dennis very much enjoyed the company of his fellow man and was always a reliable team player, these were sports where he was largely alone: in the ring against an adversary, he was alone with his grit, determination and sheer physical courage; while running, there may have been others around him but ultimately he was alone with his legs, his breathing and the next yard; in playing golf, he may have been with friends or competitors but, for each shot, he was alone with his chosen club and the ball. It’s lucky that there weren’t many mountains in North West London or Dennis would surely have been clinging to a rock-face pitting himself against its hazards.
And North West London it was where it all began. On November 5th 1934, Dennis was born to Ted and Dora Pollard and went on to live alongside his younger sister and brother Rita and Alan, both now passed on. They all lived at 29 Winchelsea Road in the London Borough of Willesden. [ I love the time-circle of that fact: here, over eighty years later, Winchelsea is just under the same number - 29 - miles away from Eastbourne.] In 1956 he married his first and late wife, Jean, and produced their two fine children Debra and Alan. Three equally fine grandchildren later came along: Jack, Maisie and Isla. In 1979, he married his loving and devoted Pamela – 43 years ago.
Dennis’s father, Ted, had boxed with the army and lost little time in introducing Dennis to the gentleman’s sport. And so, by the time Dennis was 11 and winning his place at St Clement Dane’s Grammar School in Hammersmith, he was already very familiar with glove and ring. Few were surprised when he finished up as Hammersmith’s Schoolboy Champion.
Dennis left school at 16, clutching a handful of decent “O” Levels, and joined the Metropolitan Police Cadet Corps. He served a full two years there, finishing up as what was then known as a Senior Cadet, before being called up in 1952 for National Service. He elected to join the Royal Military Police and was contented to be posted to Kenya where he saw active service as a corporal dog handler at the time of the Mau Mau uprisings. He made time for boxing, too, representing his Regiment at his then mature weight of light heavyweight. He went on to fight for the Army as a whole in Kenya and eventually was light heavyweight champion of the armies of all East Africa.
On de-mob, Dennis re-joined the Met and served most of his career North of the river. Despite this, he joined the Fitzroy Lodge Boxing Club in Lambeth. He quickly won the Metropolitan Police’s Boxing Novices Championship. It was with the Fitzroy Lodge club , through a chance meeting with Bill Chevally – the renowned boxing trainer – that Dennis’s international boxing career was launched. He was twice London’s ABA champion at his weight, represented all London seven times and won four England caps. In 1961, he fought in the English team alongside Billy Walker, Dick McTaggart and Alan Rudkin at the Wembley Pool where they white-washed the USA team 10 nil in a competition still spoken of proudly in boxing circles this side of the Atlantic! Dennis would probably have described this, inimitably, as “the business”. In 1962 he captained the GB team at the British Empire and Commonwealth “Dust Heat and Glory” games in Perth, Australia. In 1963 he was chosen as the GB standard-bearer at the European Championships in Moscow. In 1964, Dennis made the significant decision not to turn professional but to turn back and concentrate on his police career. He left the ring, then, literally, with flying colours. This didn’t prevent his going on to become both a respected coach and professional judge for the sport.
On the way to this event today, I took a phone call from Norwell Roberts, London’s first black police officer, and when I told him where I was and what I was up to, he was quick and proud to tell me that he had been coached and trained to box for the renowned Lafone Cup competition by Dennis.
Dennis quickly rose through the ranks. He twice attended the Police Staff College at Bramshill and it was here that I first met him in 1966 and shared a dining table with him three times a day for three months. It’s significant that we parted company after those three months without my ever hearing a single word from him about his already established international boxing prowess. I worked with him again when we were both on the Directing Staff at Hendon Police Training School in the early seventies, where again, I heard no mention from him ever of his achievements. I was young, very fit and into squash those days and must admit that I had thought of Dennis as a rather solid, slow-mover of a man – not readily of the species “Gazelle”. That was until one day I was passing though the gym on the way to the squash courts and found Dennis skipping. It was such a double-take for me that I just sat down and watched him, simply marvelling at the speed, rhythm and whistle of the rope, the fast, light patter of his feet and the occasional magically dextrous switch of the rope across his body. I saw him in a new light that lunch time.
Dennis eventually rose to be Officer Commanding the North West Borough of Holloway as its divisional chief superintendent. He was a tough and decisive leader, fiercely supportive of his front-line officers, high on approachability and fairness, notoriously low on patience with sloppiness or laziness. He was certainly a true professional in that arena.
During his time in North West London he took up his interest in golf and joined the Mill Hill Club, playing as often as duties permitted.
In 1982, aged 48 he also took up distance running and soon became seriously committed to longer and longer hauls. He completed five full marathons and in 1985, at 51 years of age, put in his best ever time at the London event of a very tidy 3 hrs 17 minutes.
I have been asked not to dwell on health matters and won’t but, briefly told, Dennis was a true fighter here as well. In 1995 he was diagnosed with breast cancer and laughed in the face first of a full mastectomy and later of radio therapy, proud that he was one of the comparatively few men in the United Kingdom to suffer that aspect of the disease and to overcome it. Similarly, when eventually his hips revolted at the pressure he had put them under, he underwent a bilateral hip replacement and, though iron discipline in following his surgeon’s advice, was back playing golf within three months. He reacted in the same way when those two replaced hips were both revised at the same time.
Dennis and Pamela had by then moved in 1997 to their new home in Bexhill, Dennis joined the Highwoods Golf Club and was honoured in 2000 to be asked to be their Captain for their millennial year. He was able to bring distinction to his term of office by securing the presence of Sir Henry Cooper as guest-speaker and player on a memorable day still fondly spoken of.
Dennis started to withdraw into his new unfamiliar world from 2014 – 8 long years ago – when first diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. In the earlier stages he continued as long as he could with his club membership and enjoyed very many happy social meetings with members and past captains.
A brief word now about Pamela, Alan and Debra – because they were a tremendous team and devoted to each other in caring for Dennis. From recent conversations with Pamela, I have distilled two important images: first, that, as a couple, every day, Dennis and Pamela expressed their love for each other; second, when a kindly friend once mused to Pam whether Dennis might perhaps be better off ‘in a home’, Pam replied that he was indeed in a home – his home... and so he remained till the last.
So, there we have it - popularly “Punchy Pollard” with a wicked, mischievous sense of humour and, despite the strong, robust and Alpha-male of his physique, gentle and smiling eyes which captivated many a lady – my wife, Patsy not least!
Dennis was one of the nicest, most generous men I have known and we all need friends like that. I must now wait for a while, but when it’s my time at the far end of the departure lounge, I expect to meet Dennis, immaculate in his police uniform, with his white traffic gauntlets, there to see me across the road! It will be good to see him again.
Dennis Pollard as Annual Captain of Bexhill's Highwood Golf Club, with Club guest Sir Henry Cooper in 2000.
Dennis at 27: Great Britain v USA at Wembley Pool, November 1961 - GB win 10-0
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