AN example set by a former Ledbury beat bobby will be making the streets safer thousands of miles away in Australia.

Derek Curtis posed with two young Australian visitors to the town in 1989 and has exchanged greetings every year since.

He has just received a 'then and now' picture from one of the two visitors, Melissa Maynes, of Victoria. The 'now' being her graduation as a police officer in Australia last month.

Melissa last met PC Curtis when she was eight and is now about to go on the beat herself. And, as if that was not enough, her brother Andrew, also in the 1989 picture, is about to complete a law degree.

Elizabeth Curtis, Derek's wife, said: "My husband is delighted to be a role model. The children were just travelling through Ledbury on holiday. They saw Derek and his old bike and stopped and asked for a photograph.

"Since then we've been sending them Christmas cards each year and have stayed in touch. But we haven't seen them since.

"On hearing of Melissa's graduation as a police officer, we wrote straight back with our congratulations."

Mr Curtis, of Pound Meadow, retired from policing the streets of Ledbury last March, after 28 years of service. He now works for European Aviation. He was appointed as deputy coroner's officer in 1998 and in 1999 was presented with a special award from Ledbury Town Council in recognition of his long years of service.