IT was an intensely emotional scene...

At a slow walking pace, a gleaming black hearse carried PC Nick Dumphreys to Carlisle Crematorium as scores of uniformed officers stood at the roadside, their heads bowed in silent tribute.

Draped over the coffin was the national flag of PC Dumphreys’ native South Africa.

A wreath of white flowers in the rear of the hearse spelled out 1724 – the collar number worn so proudly by PC Dumphreys during his 17-year Cumbrian police career. And after the hearse came seven motorcycle outriders, their blue lights flashing, sirens silent.

Also at the funeral were members from all three emergency services.

The hour-long service heard several poignant tributes to PC Dumphreys, a roads policing officer who died in a crash on the M6 near Carlisle on January 26. A married father of two young children, the 47-year-old was hugely popular and adored by his family.

There was a tribute from Chief Inspector Richard Quinn, who worked with PC Dumphreys in Brampton during the early part of his career. “Once met, never forgotten,” was how the officer summed up PC Dumphreys. “He was a big man, a big personality, and he had a bigger heart.

“If I could describe him in three words, it would be funny, caring and professional.”

Chief Inspector Quinn said PC Dumphreys was always there for his family, his colleagues, his mates and the public, whom he served so well. “He was also the consummate professional,” said the officer.

“He was thorough in his work; he was serious when he needed to be and he was a true copper’s cop.” The Chief Inspector said he could not recall an occasion when he had seen so many police officers gathered in one place – a sign of PC Dumphreys’ popularity.

The service heard also from PC Dumphreys’ brother Matt.

He outlined his brother’s eventful early life, which included a passion for martial arts, and a spell as a police officer and a detective in a serious crime unit in the South African police force. He also completed training in scuba driving and a parachute course.

In 1994, Nick Dumphreys made the first of two attempts to join the SAS but it was not meant to be.

His love of animals and the outdoors led him to enrol in a game and wildlife management course at Newton Rigg College near Penrith, but the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 scuppered his chances of landing a job. It was two years later, in 2003, that he returned to his policing roots, joining Cumbria Constabulary.

Matt Dumphreys spoke also of the day when Nick had asked him to be his best man at the wedding to his then fiancé Kat in 2012. Close to tears, Matt Dumphreys concluded by recalling how his brother had always been cheerful, always smiling and ready with a “semi-funny” joke.

The service closed with an emotional statement from Kat, the adoring wife of PC Dumphreys, who said: “Life was one big adventure with you... Thank you for choosing me: you made me the happiest girl alive.” Some people quietly shed tears as her words were read aloud.

After the service, Cumbria’s Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said that the massive turnout for the funeral – including from the county’s other emergency services – stood as a powerful tribute.

She added: “Thank you from me on what is a really sad and tragic day for the Constabulary. It was an incredibly moving service.”

There was a collection, with the proceeds divided between The Great North Air Ambulance, the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association and Blood Bikes. Police from Lancashire are investigating the tragedy which claimed PC Dumphreys’ life. At the time, he was responding to an emergency call.