NSW Police officers have said farewell to their colleague Sergeant Peter Stone with a marching escort at his funeral in Springwood in NSW's Blue Mountains on Thursday.
The sound of bagpipes filled St Columba's Catholic College hall as Sergeant Stone's loved ones were joined by members of the police family at a full police funeral service at 12.30pm.
The highly regarded police officer and father-of-three drowned after rescuing his 14-year-old son at a beach near Narooma on the state's South Coast on New Year's day.
Four hundred people attended the funeral service, including 300 police officers.
The eulogy was read by Lyndsay Robinson and the valedictory given by Inspector Adam Evans and Blue Mountains Police Rescue Sergeant Steve Day.
The funeral procession with marching escort travelled along the college access road at the end of the service.
State Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle and Blue Mountains City Council mayor Mark Greenhill were among the dignitaries to attend the service.
Sergeant Stone was a member of NSW Police for 22 years and most recently worked on specialist rescue operations in the Blue Mountains.
Meanwhile, an appeal for the family of Sergeant Stone has almost hit its $30,000 target.
The community has responded strongly to the appeal, which is being administered by NSW Police Legacy, the charity that supports police families.
Tributes for popular colleague
It comes as tributes continue to flow in for Sergeant Peter Stone.
Blue Mountains Police Rescue honoured their colleague on the unit's Facebook page.
"Sergeant Stone was not only a much loved rescue operator with the squad but also a general duties sergeant with the Blue Mountains Police area Command... He would give freely of his time even if he didn't have the time to give," they said in a post.
A friend and former colleague at Springwood Police Station, Allanah Anson, said he "was absolutely loved and adored by the people he worked with".
"Rather than just be remembered as a policeman who was a rescue operator, he was so much more than that," she told ACM.
"I can't think of anyone who would say they didn't like him. He was one of those guys who just drew people to him."
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb extended condolences to Peter's family and friends after the tragedy.
"Sergeant Stone was well-liked by all those who knew him, and we are not surprised by his selfless actions," said Commissioner Webb.
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Blue Mountains Police Area Commander, Superintendent Don Faulds, said Peter was an exceptional man, a brilliant operator and will be dearly missed.
"Peter had dedicated his professional life to helping the community and had a real passion for rescue operations, particularly here in the rugged mountain terrain," said Supt Faulds.
"He was always quick - if not first - to offer his help or assistance around the command and his colleagues considered him a mate."
Sergeant Stone, 45, died after entering the water near Narooma on the NSW south coast to rescue his 14-year-old son who had been swept out to sea in a rip. He was able to save his son but "was then taken further out to sea in the rip" himself, NSW Police Acting Inspector Paul Hoyer said.
Stone was pulled from the water but was unable to be resuscitated by NSW Ambulance and Surf Life Saving personnel.
Valedictory - Sgt Peter Stone
Valedictory for Sgt Peter Stone, Blue Mountains Police Area Command, read by Inspector Adam Evans.
"Sergeant Peter Thomas Stone, registered number 34893. Peter Thomas Stone was attested as a Probationary Constable on 22 December 2000 following the completion of his training at the NSW Police Academy. He was initially attached to the Holroyd Command performing General Duties.
- On 30 January 2002 he was confirmed as a Constable.
- On 25 April 2002 he transferred to Dareton Police Station performing General Duties.
- On 17 July 2005 he transferred to Green Valley Local Area Command performing General Duties and on 22 December 2005 he was promoted to the rank of Senior Constable.
- On 24 April 2008 he was transferred to the Burwood Local Area Command on Ancillary Duties and on 22 July 2008 was promoted to the rank of Sergeant as a General Duties Team Leader.
- On 27 November 2011 he transferred to the Blue Mountains Local Area Command as a General Duties Team Leader.
- On 1 July 2015 he successfully completed the Rescue Squad Operators Course and commenced part-time rescue duties within the Blue Mountains area.
Sgt Stone has been awarded the following medals, commendations, and citations.
- The National Emergency Medal
- The National Police Service Medal
- The National Medal
- The New South Wales Premier's Bushfire Citation
- The New South Wales Police Diligent and Ethical Service Medal with the 1st and 2nd Clasps
- The Commissioner's Emergency Commendation and
- The Commissioner's Sesquicentenary Citation
Sgt Stone's service history is a reflection of his good character, dedication to duty and passion for helping others. On behalf of the Commissioner and colleagues of the New South Wales Police Force I wish to express my condolences to Peter's family and friends on his tragic death."