Month: April 2020

Anne Williams – Iron Lady

It was the seventh anniversary of Anne Williams’ death on April 18. She was the mother of Kevin Williams, who had died at Hillsborough twenty-three years and three days earlier and Anne had fought for justice for him and all the other victims from that day to the very end of her own life, aged just 62. She was tireless in pursuit of the truth about what happened that day, particularly her challenge to the flawed ruling by Coroner Stephen Popper at the initial inquest that nobody could have survived beyond 3.15 pm. Despite being refused a judicial review of the coroner’s finding in 1993, having not one but three applications to the attorney general turned down and finally an application in 2009 to the European Court of Human Rights ruled out of time, she determinedly refused to give up and was ultimately vindicated in 2012 when the Independent Panel swept Stephen Popper’s judgement aside and determined that as many as 58 victims might still have been saved had the police and ambulance services behaved differently. She was, as David Conn, writing an obituary in the Guardian put it, ‘an everyday person embodying the extraordinary power and depth of human love’.

It is only right and fitting that she has that rare accolade of having a banner made in her honour and that it flies regularly on the Kop.

The banner celebrates her as an ‘Iron Lady’, an epithet long attached to former Tory Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was, of course, deeply implicated in the Hillsborough cover-up. The use of ‘iron’ to describe her was presumably to link her to a previous 19th century Tory Prime Minister, known as the ‘Iron Duke’, the Duke of Wellington, a man known for Depending on which version you believe, he was given this nickname either because of his consistency and resolve or because of the iron shutters he had fitted to his Apsley House, his London home in 1832, to prevent rioters smashing his windows as they had done in 1831 in reponse to his and his Tory Party’s efforts to block electoral reforms that would extend voting rights and sweep away some of the so-called ‘rotten boroughs’ that entrenched power in the hands of the rich.

When Thatcher died (April 13, 2013) a common, less than mournful, frequently joyful, mood was captured by this banner, which appeared in Barnsley, one of the many mining communities she and her government had destroyed following the 1984-1985 Miners Strike.

Converting this archetypal and despised Tory blue villain into a loved Liverpool Red hero is as good a way as any of indicating that Anne Williams was the antithesis of all Margaret Thatcher and her ilk stood and still stand for.

What may be less well-known about the banner is that it was made by Indonesian supporters from the Big Reds Official Indonesian Supporters Club, showing not only the popularity of LFC internationally, but also awareness of the Hillsborough campaign and Anne Williams’ particular and inspiring role in it. It was first unveiled at the pre-season friendly on July 20, 2013 against an Indonesian X1 at the Gelora Bung Karno National Stadium in Jakarta. (LFC won 2-0). The Big Reds then arranged for the banner to be taken back to Liverpool and presented to Anne’s family. The banner was remade by Spion Kop 1906 in 2017, fittingly appearing again in the same week as International Women’s Day

The Anne Williams ‘Iron Lady’ banner, at its first outing in Jakarta, 2013

In a videoed interview with the Liverpool Echo, one of the group was asked why they had made the banner for Anne and he replied: ‘She was passionate and tireless to campaign for justice for the victims of Hillsborough. It’s really amazing’ it’s an example for us, I hope she can rest in peace now and all the people here can follow her spirit for justice.’

Amen to that.

#JFT96 – April 15, 2020

Laura Deakin's designToday is the thirty-first anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster and were it not for the corona virus lockdown there would be memorials being held by the Hillsborough Family Support Group at Anfield Stadium (this year was to be the last held there) and by the Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC) at the Hillsborough Survivors’ Memorial in the city centre (the HSJ will be holding a virtual memorial on its Facebook page at 15.00):

Unable to come together physically, people have been finding their own ways to mark the anniversary, such as colouring in Laura Deakin’s ’96’ design posted at the top of this page (available from her via Twitter @lozzydeaks) and placing it in their windows as a mindful way of remembering the 96 and showing solidarity with the families and survivors at a time when people are also posting images in support of the NHS during the corona virus lockdown.

The two have sometimes come together Peter Carney, creator of the iconic Hillsborough has also felt impelled to create banners to mark the passing of one of the victims of thePeter Carney and Hillsborough Banners

corona pandemic, Liz Glanister and it seems appropriate today to mention her here:

Elizabeth Glenister banner

Liz Glanister was 68 when she died on April 3. She had worked for many years a nurse at Aintree University Hospital, where she probably contracted the virus. In her honour, flags were flown at half-mast in the city and three civic buildings were bathed in blue light – she was a life-long Everton supporter – hence Peter’s blue and red design for the banner he made in tribute to her. Sorrow shares its colours.

Remembering Hillsborough has always been about more than the events of that day, it’s also about remembering all victims of disasters where injustice has occurred and it seems likely that corona will emerge as another of those when the spotlight turns from getting through the current crisis to an inquiry as to how it was mismanaged by the government. When that day comes it is important that names and lives like Liz Glanister’s be recorded and remembered, just as today we remember those of the 96, their families and friends, the thousands of survivors, some of whose lives have been cut short by the disaster and many whose lives have been irrevocably changed and even blighted by it, and the campaigners who have fought three long decades for the truth and justice which one day will hopefully be delivered.