A FORMER McDonalds supervisor who swapped burgers for life as a traffic warden ended up being commended for helping apprehend an Exeter killer – and hiding from the Queen.
PCSO Ellen Holah, who has been awarded a long service commendation, joined Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in June 1992, taking a pay cut from being a supervisor at McDonalds, to become a traffic warden.
Ellen had three young children to support and her ability to deal with this, and the challenge of a difficult new role is true testament to her character, according to colleagues.
She worked for 15 years as a traffic warden covering Exeter. For three years she was on a three-speed ladies' bicycle, which matched the rather impractical uniform of a long skirt, tunic and issue handbag.
She moved on to a Honda 125 motorbike, which was written off after an unfortunate incident at Sidmouth Ford.
After this she was always seen on her Honda Cityflyer, which she had for nearly her whole service as a traffic warden.
First on the scene at a domestic murder in Stoke Woods, Ellen received a commendation for her actions in identifying and apprehending the offender, going far beyond the expectations of her role.
Ellen mainly patrolled the streets of Exeter, but sometimes she would be allowed outside the city, such as for the Queen's visit to Westpoint in the late 90s.
During this visit the traffic wardens were swiftly told to hide away from the Royal party as their high-vis clothing didn't give the professional image required.
The wardens were later seen with just their heads peeping out from behind an earth bank close to where the Queen had pulled up.
Ellen took on a role as Unison representative for 16 years, advising colleagues and helping to resolve disputes.
She is now in her sixth year as a police community support officer, currently covering the Heavitree and Polsloe area of Exeter.
She completely absorbed herself into the community of her previous beat, St Loyes, receiving recognition for the establishment of 23 Neighbourhood Watch Schemes in one year.