She couldn’t have known it at the time, but by joining Cambridgeshire Police's Special Constabulary 20 years ago Clare Greaney would ultimately gain not one, but two families.
The music teacher fell in love with the camaraderie between Specials and regular officers at her Huntingdon base and also met the love of her life in fellow Special, Stuart Greaney.
Clare, 44, has just retired due to the demands of family life but will always feel part of the policing family.
She said: “My advice to anyone thinking of joining the Specials would be ‘go for it’.
“You have the most brilliant experience and make life-long friends. You do your bit and give something back to the community, which is so rewarding. You will always be part of the policing family because of those bonds you make with people.”
Clare, who is now Vice Principal of Longsands Academy in St Neots, was a music teacher at a Northamptonshire school but living in Brampton when she applied to become a Special in Cambridgeshire.
“I saw an advert on TV which showed a person about to jump off a bridge and someone talking them down and asking the question, ‘could you do the same?’”, Clare recalled.
“I’d always had an interest in policing. It was little things, like my memories of a police officer coming into school, that sparked my interest and my Dad had police officer friends.
“There are also many similarities between policing and teaching, such as the qualities you need to do both roles well.
“I also wanted to increase my confidence and gain some life experience. Being able to meet people from lots of different backgrounds and life experiences really appealed to me.
“I thought I’d gain a lot as a person and I had skills I could offer.”
Clare, who now lives in Huntingdon, was promoted to sergeant and then inspector, initially in St Ives and then sharing the role of Special Inspector in Huntingdon with her now husband Stuart
Stuart had a job in sales but decided to join the regulars as a Met officer in 2009 and is now a traffic officer. They have a daughter, 10-year-old Poppy.
Last month, Clare received a Certificate of Service from Assistant Chief Constable Dan Vajzovic and is also due to be presented with a long service award at a commendations ceremony later this month.
So what kept Clare volunteering for nearly 20 years?
“It was the camaraderie with other Specials and regulars, which was amazing”, she said.
“The team I worked with at Huntingdon were such a good bunch and we felt so valued by the regulars.
“It was a hard decision to retire but I’m of the opinion that to do a job you need the time to do it well.
“Going out on shift was becoming more difficult, with various time constraints so the time had come to hand over the reins to another officer. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment as a Special constable and feel very grateful for the opportunities I had and the memories which will stay with me forever."