Devon and Cornwall Police go Gangnam Style

Officers bop and croon to Psy hit - but it’s all for a good cause.

Police officers have hit the streets ‘Gangnam Style’ to help raise funds for a young boy left with disabilities following a brain tumour.

Sergeant Gary Watts ‘persuaded’ colleagues to join him in a public re-creation of the cult music video by South Korean rapper Psy.

Officers and PCSOs put their dancing skills to the test to film the parody.

The tongue-in-cheek charity video, which has now been posted on Youtube has been made for a serious purpose – to raise money for 12-year-old Josh Wilson, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2004.

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Following treatment the youngster, from Bury, now has severe neuromuscular disabilities that require a fully-adapted home; his family needs to raise �25,000 to pay for a ceiling track hoist, a special medical bath, building work and other basic equipment.

The idea for the fun video first began when someone on behalf of Josh, who is a big fan of the police and fire service, requested a police helmet through his popular Twitter account.

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Sergeant Watts said: “This isn’t something we would normally do - we don’t give out any uniform for obvious reasons. However, I could see from pictures and tweets that Josh is mad about the emergency services and it would be a unique gift.”

Devon and Cornwall Police authorised the request and a pre-used helmet in good condition was sent to Josh.

“I had some lovely messages about the gesture, not only from Josh and his mum Dawn, but from all over the world after people saw PC Josh proudly wearing his Devon and Cornwall Police helmet,” added Gary. “Hopefully it also caught people’s attention as well, and made more people aware of Josh’s condition and challenge.”

Towards the end of December 2012, prolific tweeter Gary got involved in a conversation about the Gangnam Style video by Korean artist Psy and the number of hits on Youtube.

The discussion prompted the idea of Gary replicating the dance – although he wasn’t keen!

“In order to try and stop the calls for me to make a fool of myself in this way I said I would do the dance if I got another 1,000 followers before the end of the year. It had taken me two-and-a-half years to get 4,000 so I felt safe. How wrong I was!” he added.

Pete Appleyard, of Roseland Media, and Emma Rushton from the BBC took up the challenge and soon the hashtags #GangnamPoliceman and #SargeDancesGangnam were a regular sight on Twitter.

Gary’s follower count increased by more than 1,000 within a few days.

He said: “Once it dawned on me that this could really happen I wanted to make something good come from it. Early in Pete and Emma’s campaign I suggested that if I could get approval then I would want to raise money and awareness for Josh.”

Gary tweeted asking for others to join him and surprisingly wasn’t inundated with replies. Julian Commons from Cornwall Council and Sam Biggs, a police volunteer, however both jumped at the opportunity and were true to their word.

After ‘persuading’ PCs Barry Nicholas, Chris Vincent and PCSOs Ellie Grey and PCSO Chris Braddon to get involved the team got together on the 2 January this year to film the footage around Falmouth.

With just a short time to film and no rehearsal it was a frantic few hours. Where ever the team filmed they drew a crowd of bemused onlookers.

“I had tweeted for the public to get involved in part of the video at Event Square in Falmouth.” said Gary. ‘Crowds of people came but not many were ready to dance. We persuaded a few, mainly small children, which was ideal because we had an excuse to simplify the dance steps, not that we had been getting them right all day anyway!

“A few clips of the filming have already made it out onto the Internet and have been viewed around the world. People have already donated money to Josh’s fund including an anonymous donation of �100 at Falmouth police station.

“I hoped that we would raise at least �100 for Josh but much more than that has now been donated. This makes the humiliation much easier to bear!

“Ten years ago this relationship would probably have never occurred. The power of social media has produced virtual communities and reduced the size of the world and in this case introduced a 12-year-old boy in Bury with Cornwall Police.

“We had great fun doing the video and we hope it makes people smile – most importantly we hope we have gone some way to raising understanding for Josh’s situation and other brave children who are going through the same journey.”

Anyone wanting to donate to Joshua’s Journey fund can do so via:

The video was recorded, edited and produced at no cost by Pete Appleyard and the team from Roseland Media, and the officers completed the video in their own time.

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