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Flags at half mast for Hillsborough mum Anne Williams

Formby housewife forged from steel and links of silver

Written by . Published on April 19th 2013.


Flags at half mast for Hillsborough mum Anne Williams
 

AT last Monday's memorial service to mark 24 years since the Hillsborough disaster, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright was heard to remark that the two greatest words in the English language were "my mum". 

He was talking about the Fight For Justice, which may go down in history as one of the biggest miscarriages of modern democracy.

"They picked on the wrong city – and they picked on the wrong mums.” 

The last thing you expect is to be handed a tissue of lies with which to mop your tears

Against the advice of doctors, Anne Williams was there to hear him say what was to become one of the final affirmations of a struggle that was to take up almost half her life. 

Almost 24 years to the day after her beloved boy, Kevin, was snatched away from her, Williams, 60, lost her swift fight with cancer. She did, however, win the long game for justice. 

On the Town Hall and other municipal buildings, where civic flags had stuck it up to Thatcher the day before, now they hang at half mast. Respect, Liverpool style. 

Flag At Half Mast For Anne Williams In LiverpoolFlag At Half Mast For Anne Williams In Liverpool

The part-time newsagent worker and housewife, from Formby, could run rings around any barrister or attorney as she repeatedly challenged flawed medical evidence accepted at her son's inquest, and its verdict of accidental death.

Unwaveringly, she stood so many slaps in the face and slammed doors from the Establishment and its version of The Truth. 



Former Echo journalist Peter Grant tells how he travelled down to London, in 1993, with Anne Williams and five other “beautiful women” who had lost their children at Hillsborough. It was one of many excursions to the High Court for the wronged mums. 

“This time they were hopeful,” he says.”The pain was etched on their faces, but there was a beauty about all of them, a serenity. 

“We chatted away, I noticed they all, including Anne, wore identical silver lockets. 'What's that about, what do you keep in them?' I asked. 

“'Death certificates. We keep their death certificates in them,' they replied. And they never took them off.” 

As any parent knows, there can be no worse wound than the loss of a child. So perhaps the last thing you expect is to be handed a tissue of lies with which to mop your tears. 

Anne_WilliamsAnne wears the silver locket containing son Kevin's death certificate. Picture Claire Wood

Grant added: “The thing that hurt Anne Williams most down the years was not just that she lost her beautiful son; it was the early realisation that all the people who you are meant to be able to have faith and trust in, as individuals, as a society, consistently lied about what happened. She went through hell. 

“'All I want is the truth,' she would say. She was an ordinary mum. 'I go home, his room is still there. The last thing he said to me was see you later and he never came back'.” 

Deception was something that Anne Williams and the other mums had learned the cruellest, hardest way, from day one. Another woman on the train trip told how, on the evening of the disaster, she received the “death knock” from a photographer and journalist claiming to be from the Echo, recalls Grant. 

Could they have some pictures of her child to take away for a story they were doing in the paper? They rifled through her precious albums.

They would bring the snaps back, they promised, when they had scanned them in at the office. They never did and she never saw them, or her photos again.

The Echo, which was always very careful with so-called pick-up images from family albums, knew nothing about it. It turned out the strangers were opportunists from another national red top. 

To add extra insult to injury, says Grant,  “the woman told me that when she asked South Yorkshire Police if they could help find the missing pictures of her son, they misunderstood and instead she was sent a Polaroid of him on a mortuary slab, with an admin invoice for a couple of quid”. 

Dark, spirit-crushing decades, but more rays now for those ordinary mothers, bearing their lockets and figurative crosses, who survive Williams to see this Herculean endeavour through. 

Meanwhile, Grant and others have set themselves about the task of getting the funds together for a bench to contemplate Anne and Kevin Williams' lives. Neil Fitzmaurice was the first to pledge support for a Justice benefit show in her honour and local foundry Merseyside Castings were quick to offer to build it. 

Where it will go and when it will see the light of day, is, like the fight, a die yet to be cast.

Another small gesture for an ordinary woman who, within herself, reached and found steel.

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Catherine BraithwaiteApril 20th 2013.

Made me cry....again

Shirley JacksonApril 20th 2013.

Well written, sad story ... Thanks, Angie ...

Ella DeanApril 20th 2013.

I hope the people who covered this up meet Anne Williams in the great cosmos one day and explain why they thought they could do this.

AnonymousApril 20th 2013.

The locket story I hadn't heard before. The Hillsborough families lost more than their loved ones that day. As you say, for the rest of their lives they were bound together and will be until they are all gone. They have had no normal lives, outside of each other, for the last 24 years. You can't see that changing. The story just gets bigger and bigger

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