A POLICE officer celebrated 50 years’ service in the force last week – and his fascinating career even saw him inside a tiger cage in Barnsley.

Special Constable Paul Brown started as a cadet in 1973 when he was posted to the Sheffield and Rotherham Constabulary. Just two years later, he was posted to Barnsley where he did stints in traffic and was one of the first PNC operators in South Yorkshire.

He recalls using the data printers and translating messages before he was posted to Penistone in 1978.

But in 1981, after a chance conversation in his local pub, Paul found himself on a suitability course to become a mounted officer at Ring Farm in Cudworth and, on successful completion, found his calling.

Paul said: “I took to it like a duck to water. I took part in county shows, we had a show team as we had the time then to compete. We now have a Saddle Club that we do in our own time but still represent the force.

“I’ve been all over the world competing, South Africa in 1996 was my first overseas competition, I’ve been to Oman, Abu Dhabi, Australia, America and Qatar winning numerous awards over the years. I’ve visited many mounted units across the world and helped set the LA and Florida Mounted Units up with public order gear.”

He even took the chance to become a tiger trainer when a circus came to town.

They were recruiting tiger trainers and Paul was invited to have a go, and found himself in the cage with five of the animals.

During his time with the mounted unit, Paul has met a number of celebrities, including the Spice Girls, but he’s also been on TV screens a number of times. Paul has featured in the film Billy Elliot, the Peaky Blinders series, a bread advert and a number of other shows as an ‘extra’.