CHANGE OF PACE: After spending most of his life in London working for the Metropolitan Police Force, Alan Fry decided he would call the Lockyer Valley home.
CHANGE OF PACE: After spending most of his life in London working for the Metropolitan Police Force, Alan Fry decided he would call the Lockyer Valley home. Francis Witsenhuysen

From London to the Lockyer

DEALING with a rocket-propelled grenade being fired into London's Secret Intelligence Service building was just another day on the job for Alan Fry.

It was the 1990s and Mr Fry was the head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch.

"It was a major escalation in terrorist capability for a rocket-propelled grenade to be launched in the middle of London,” Mr Fry said.

"There were few more strategic sites for such an audacious attack.

"That building was in one of the James Bond films ... Mr Bond would have said 'it was shaken but not stirred'. But it was business as usual that night, communications carried on and fortunately no one was hurt.”

Throughout his 40-year career in the Metropolitan Police Force, Mr Fry spent time as a detective investigating murders, was the head of criminal intelligence, was in charge of the company fraud department and had charge of the policing of West London, which covered Hyde Park Corner to Heathrow.

"My grandfather was a police officer ... it's in my blood and it was something that always interested me,” he said.

"I started out as a constable, did my time on the beat and then I was fortunate that every now and again they promoted me.”

While heading the Met's Anti-Terrorist Branch he investigated numerous attacks by the IRA and other terrorist organisations and was the national co-ordinator for all terrorist investigations in England and Wales.

"For 30 years we had the IRA carrying out numerous bombings and shootings, primarily in Northern Ireland but also many in England and Wales, with particular focus on dislocating transport and the major financial centres, thereby bringing London to a standstill,” My Fry said.

"When I joined the force in 1962 terrorism wasn't a problem ... an armed robbery would bring out the whole of the station, it was major.

"Then attacks became more and more frequent - riots and demonstrations - life got a lot more violent, more confrontational. People unfortunately wanted to settle things by means of violence than sitting around the table.”

At the 1989 New Year Honours Mr Fry was awarded the Queens Police Medal for distinguished service and at the 2003 New Year Honours he received an OBE (officer of the British Empire) medal for his service in countering the provisional IRA and other terrorism, including the investigations into the September 11 attack in New York.

"I was extremely proud,” he said.

"You are doing your job as best you can but it's always nice to receive recognition for that. Every day was a challenge, I loved the variety and I couldn't have happened upon a better career.”

The self-proclaimed "Man of Kent” said it was a no-brainer to retire in the Lockyer Valley with his wife, Tina, and went on to explain why they made the move to our great southern land 10 years ago.

"My wife was a 10-pound Pom,” he said.

"After the second world war when Australia was keen to attract people from England - people paid 10 pounds for their voyage to Australia, as she did with her mother.

"She had her first birthday on the ship out here.”

It wasn't until 1984 when Tina, who had been a member of the Royal Australian Navy and had settled in Sydney's Northern Beaches, decided to make a trip back to England to visit her grandfather.

Some years later, Tina met her husband-to-be at a civic service in Kensington.

"Well, that was that,” Mr Fry chuckled.

"We married in 1993 and celebrated our silver wedding anniversary on February 27.”

Years passed and the Frys holidayed regularly in Australia.

"When I got here, I said, why would you leave,” he said.

After some time, the Frys decided they would rather grow old in the warm than in the cold.

"We had a wide choice of where we were going to settle - we were looking anywhere between Sydney and Brisbane - but our focus was on Queensland,” he said.

"When a friend alerted us to a beautiful house on 31 acres in Glen Cairn we did not hesitate.”

The Frys had a happy nine years at Glen Cairn.

"We decided to move to Laidley Heights because the day would come when it would be too much for us,” he said.

In 2009 Mr Fry became an Australian citizen.

"Tina burst into tears ... it was a big occasion and moment for us. We've made many lovely friends here and are very happy,” he said.

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