‘To you, Bill..’ Much-missed Trustee is remembered with a permanent plaque at the new mini-Museum

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The driving force behind a new Museum for policing, who died before he could see his dream open to the public, has been remembered with a plaque inside the Tavistock premises.

Decades of policing history in Devon and Cornwall was recently celebrated with the official opening of a mini-Museum in Tavistock.

After the official opening, a short dedication was held inside the building to honour Trustee Bill Tupman, who played a pivotal role in founding the Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall.

Bill, 74, died in March 2023 just weeks before the Tavistock Court Gate building lease was signed.

The mini-Museum is the result of years of perseverance to find a premises where artefacts, documents and photographs charting Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s policing history and heritage can be displayed to the public.

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L to R: Standing in front of the plaque dedicated to Bill Tupman (inset) is Bill Skelly QPM, a founding Trustee of the South West Police Heritage Trust (now MOPIDAC), Ulrike Richards MOPIDAC Vice-chair, Cathy Tupman, one of Bill Tupman’s daughters, MOPIDAC Chairman Steve Pearce QPM DL. Photo: MOPIDAC.

Bill’s daughters, Amy and Cathy Tupman, who were invited to the launch of the mini premises, said they were ‘absolutely delighted’ the Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall was open to the public.

They said: “We are honoured that a plaque in dad’s memory has been placed in the museum. It seems fitting that he should be remembered in a place he would have been so excited to see.

“Our dad was a tireless advocate for the work of the South West Police Heritage Trust; he was passionate about sharing the policing heritage of our region with the public.

“Dad would be so pleased to know that the hard work of the trustees, staff and volunteers had paid off.”

The plaque dedicated to Professor Bill Tupman, co-founder and Trustee of the Museum, who died before the premises could open to the public.

Bill Skelly, a founding trustee of the South West Police Heritage Trust – as it was known before the Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall charity formed – paid tribute to ‘dear friend’ Bill Tupman.

Dedicating a plaque inside the mini premises to the former trustee, the retired Deputy Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police said Bill was ‘key’ in setting out the Museum’s fledgling hopes, and its future success.

He said: “Bill was a real inspiration and a driving force behind the development and the continuing growth of the trust and what we were seeking to achieve.

“He was a key element of establishing the vision of what we were seeking to achieve, but also making sure that we moved towards that; we didn’t forget what we were attempting to do.”

He said Bill had been ’very keen’ on digitising the collection, an ongoing project launched by the Museum in 2023, and praised his curiosity for knowledge.

Mr Skelly said: “Whenever he met any one of us, he was as curious as a child in wanting to know what we were doing and what our thoughts were on a whole range of subjects.

“So, a better trustee for a heritage museum I could not possibly imagine. And he is much, much missed by all of us.”

The Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall (MOPIDAC) unveiled its mini premises to invited guests on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony, at Tavistock’s Court Gate building, in Bedford Square.

The mini-Museum is open every Friday from now until October 2024, 11am until 3pm. Tavistock’s Court Gate building, in Bedford Square. Entry is free.