THE widow of blinded PC David Rathband will not attend a cathedral service organised by his twin brother in Newcastle today.
Kath Rathband issued a statement yesterday which said she will be at the funeral a week today and a memorial service two days later in the city.
But she will not be at St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle for the noon service today, which has been arranged by Darren Rathband, 44.
In a statement issued on her behalf by Northumbria Police, the mother-of-two said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Northumbria Police for the care and support they have given and continue to give to myself, Ash and Mia during this incredibly difficult time.
“I’d also like to thank all the well-wishers for their kind words, from which I have gained tremendous strength.
“There is to be a service on Saturday March 10, at which I will not be present. However, I will be attending my husband David’s funeral service, which will be held in Stafford.
“I will then be taking part in a police memorial service which will be held at 2pm on Monday March 19 at St Nicholas Cathedral.
“Family, friends and colleagues can gather to celebrate the many happy memories we all have of the 12 years spent as a family in the North East of England.
“In these extremely difficult times for myself and our children, we want to be able to grieve in private and out of the media spotlight and we request that everyone respects this.”
The two separate cathedral ceremonies were organised for different parts of PC Rathband’s family, relatives say.
The 44-year-old, blinded by gunman Raoul Moat, was found hanged at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, on March 2.
The father of Mia, 13, and Ashley, 19, was understood to be heartbroken by the end of his marriage to wife Kath.
His brother Darren arranged tomorrow’s service at St Nicholas’ Cathedral and a second, organised by Northumbria Police, will happen at the same venue nine days later.
Top-level politicians and senior dignitaries are expected to attend tomorrow’s service, which has been called “a celebration of PC David Rathband’s life”.
PC Rathband was left blind when he was blasted twice in the face by Moat while sitting unarmed in his patrol car in July 2010.
He battled to rebuild his life afterwards and became a national figure after setting up PC David Rathband’s Blue Lamp Foundation which helped 999 personnel injured in the line of duty.
Gunman Moat evaded capture for a week after declaring war on Northumbria Police, saying he was “hunting for officers”.
He crept up on PC Rathband as he sat in his marked police car at a roundabout above the A1 and shot him twice.
PC Rathband saved his own life by pretending to be dead.