POLICE members, family and friends today honoured Senior Constable Andrew John Steel, who died on Tuesday following a battle with illness.
A guard of honour extended the length of Burnside Street in the Bendigo Lawn Cemetery as the 55-year-old’s casket was carried to its final resting place.
Senior Constable Steel was on active duty as recently as November 2. He died suddenly, but peacefully, at Bendigo Hospital four days later.
In his eulogy, friend and manager Senior Sergeant Paul Huggett said messages of sympathy had been pouring in to Bendigo police from colleagues near and far.
He said people remembered Senior Constable Steel as one of the kindest people they had ever known, an ‘absolute gentleman’ and a ‘Man of Steel’.
“I thank you on behalf of all of Andrew’s colleagues for sharing him with us,” Senior Sergeant Huggett told Senior Constable Steel’s family.
“We share your grief and mourn his loss with you. We miss him.
“I would like to assure you and provide you with the comfort that every member, both sworn and unsworn, who knew and worked with Andrew is a better person from his influence and the legacy he left us.”
Senior Constable Steel entered the police academy on January 18, 2010.
He was confirmed as a sworn member exactly two years later, having ranked 9th of the 20 recruits in his squad at the police academy.
After a couple of months in Keilor Downs, he transferred to Maryborough uniform police.
Senior Constable Steel served in Maryborough for two years before transferring to Bendigo in April 2013.
He was promoted to the rank of Senior Constable in 2014 and transferred to the Central Victoria Intelligence Unit in April this year.
Senior Sergeant Huggett said Senior Constable Steel was highly regarded by his superiors, and personally considered him to be the finest example of how Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton wished all members to represent Victoria Police.
“He [Mr Ashton] believes all members should be confident in the performance of their duties while being humble while delivering them,” Senior Sergeant Huggett said.
“Andrew loved being a police officer. He loved working with all of his colleagues. In his own manner and never with an unkind word, he would motivate and encourage his colleagues to perform at their best and always provide excellence.”
He said Senior Constable Steel was passionate about helping young people succeed in life and would go to extra lengths to help those who came to the attention of police to become productive community members.
“He volunteered for a number of organisations, the Bendigo branch of the Blue Ribbon Foundation being one,” Senior Sergeant Huggett said.
“In fact he had put his name forward to work all day tomorrow at the Bunnings Kangaroo Flat BBQ, a Blue Ribbon Foundation fundraising activity.”
However, he said Senior Constable Steel’s first love was his family.
He said the 55-year-old was a proud husband, father and grandfather.
“Andrew never shied away from the battle he had with illness but rose against it and displayed a resolve and commitment that was commendable,” Senior Sergeant Huggett said.
“Always ready for work with a grin and cheerful attitude he made others feel good to be around him. His enthusiasm was contagious”.
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