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GALLERY: Hunter mourners pay their respects to Tony Townsend

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The NSW Police Force and the Hunter community came together on Thursday to farewell a diligent and dedicated officer… and loving father.

The late Chief Inspector Anthony Townsend, known affectionately to most as Tony or “TT”, died on Tuesday 23 August following a long battle with cancer, aged 61.

And, a huge crowd converged on McDonald Jones Stadium on 1 September to pay their respects to the much-loved policeman and former Newcastle Knight.

Chief Inspector Townsend attested from the Redfern Police Academy in March 1983 and began his policing career in general duties at The Rocks in Sydney, before starting a long stint in police prosecutions.

He continued to study in this field, graduating with a Diploma of Law and a practicing certificate in Law while working within the prosecutions command in the Northern Region until 2001, when he transferred to the Lower Hunter Local Area Command at the rank of Constable.

Chief Inspector Townsend, a Hunter local, born and raised in Dungog, remained within the Hunter and Port Stephens area for the remainder of his career, raising through the ranks at both the Lower Hunter and Port Stephens Commands before they amalgamated in 2018.

He was appointed Chief Inspector in 2019 and operated as the Local Emergency Operations Controller for the Dungog Shire.

During his career, Chief Inspector Townsend was the recipient of various awards acknowledging his service to the NSW Police Force, including the NSW Police Medal and various associated clasps, a NSW Premier Emergency Award for his work during the Hunter/Central Coast Storm Emergency in 2007, a National Police Service Medal in 2014, and a Commissioner’s Unit Citation in 2016.

While remaining a committed police officer for close to 40 years, “TT” was also an avid member of the rugby league community.

He was working as a police prosecutor when he played for the St George Dragons, before being part of the inaugural Knights’ team in 1988.

“TT” then represented Newcastle on another 25 occasions before retiring at the end of 1990.

“We extend our sincere condolences to friends and family of the late Tony Townsend,” the club said in a statement last week.

“Tony, Knights Old Boy No.11, played hooker in the first ever team in 1988 and continued a strong association with the club through the Once a Knight Old Boys and his work in the NSW Police Force where he rose through the ranks to Chief Inspector.

“Tough, resilient and one of the nicest blokes you could meet, he epitomised the Knights early culture, which set a standard for unparalleled later success.

“He didn’t complain, despite his various health battles over many years, he just smiled and got on with life.

“Rest In Peace TT, Once A Knights Old Boy. Always a Knights Old Boy.”

He retired from professional football to focus on policing, however remained extremely involved in grassroots programs and youth programs afterwards.

Northern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna APM said Chief Inspector Townsend was an extremely hard-working and courageous officer, who continued to serve his community as a District Inspector until his passing.

“Tony was an exemplary example of what it meant to be a community leader and role model,” he stated.

“His dedication and commitment to the residents of Dungog and the Lower Hunter basin for decades was second to none.

“He would always go the extra mile to get the job done for his community.

“He kept his private battles exactly that – private.

“You would never have been the wiser speaking to Tony, he was the epitome of a gentleman and a professional police officer.

“He is one of those cops who inspired the next generation of officer coming through the commands, and I couldn’t be prouder to have worked alongside him and know him for a large part of my policing career.

“TT – it’s been a privilege and you will be sorely missed by your police family and indeed, the wider Hunter community.”

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