A VOLUNTARY inspector at Hampshire Constabulary is retiring from duty after completing 10,300 hours of service.

Special Constabulary inspector Bob Cooke joined the force’s voluntary service in 1993 while working his full-time job as a gamekeeper in Fosbury.

Bob, 60, started as a special constable for the Andover district before climbing the ranks of sergeant and inspector, where his responsibility grew to all of Test Valley.

Bob said: “Originally I thought of changing career to the police, and then I decided to have the best of both worlds and joined the Special Constabulary.

“When I joined it was a bit different. It was an interview at the police station then once you are accepted, it was me and another girl, we just went down to the magistrates court, got sworn in, and then went out that night.

“My first night was a burglary in King George Road. It was quite nerve wracking, I didn’t really know anything.”

Bob went on to do 700 hours in his first year, despite 200 hours being the usual requirement.

Over his career, he has won four awards, for special constable of the year, special team of the year, a superintendent’s congratulations and a Mayor of Test Valley’s special award.

Bob became a special inspector in 2003 and took up training constables which Bob feels is one thing he did really well at.

Bob said: “A lot of them have gone on to join the full-time regulars, that has been very satisfying.

“When you have been part of it, it is a nice feeling because the pay is a bit rubbish- it’s volunteering isn’t it?! The payment is the job satisfaction that is what keeps you going.

“There is a lot of incidents you think ‘I have made a difference to somebody’s life, hopefully in a good way’.”

Bob feels his “best times” were as part of the response team at Andover police station.

Bob added: “I think it was the comradery and we worked well as a team. The least fun bit is at the end of the day doing the paperwork!”

The gamekeeper now hopes to continue his day job with more time on his hands, but will keep in touch with old friends.