Gail's Gab: why Hillsborough mum Anne Williams is a modern day heroine

There was never a more fitting award than that bestowed upon the heroic Hillsborough mum Anne Williams at the BBC Sports Personality of the year awards on Sunday night.

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Anne was posthumously honoured at the ceremony and there was hardly a dry eye in the venue as her brother and children accepted the Helen Rollason award on behalf of Anne who died of cancer in April this year.

Anne's 15-year-old son Kevin left their Cheshire home on April 15 1989 to watch his beloved Liverpool play a cup semi-final at Hillsborough. That was the last time she saw him alive. Kevin and 95 other Liverpool fans tragically lost their lives that day.

Anne and all grief stricken parents and heartbroken family, friends and fellow supporters demanded answers. How could such a disaster have been allowed to happen? Unforgiveable lies were pedalled by the Sun newspaper and its editor Kelvin McKenzie. They, Yorkshire police and Mrs Thatcher's whole government mounted one of the most shameful and shocking cover-ups in British history.

After various pre-determined, whitewashed inquests, it was claimed that not a single fan was still alive after 3.15pm that day. Anne Williams refused to accept the 'official' version of events. She had listened to hundreds of ordinary accounts of what had really happened and was determined to uncover the truth. She was variously dismissed, ignored and patronised but she simply refused to give in. She, the Hillsborough mothers and the Justice for the 96 Campaign simply refused to go away.

Anne dedicated 23 years of her life to fighting police, political, media and medical collusion in the shocking Hillsborough cover-up because she had learned that her son Kevin had died in the arms of a special constable called Debra Martin and that the last word which passed his frail lips before he passed away forever was simply "mum". That special constable swore he died at 4pm that day. All official accounts denied that possibility.

After several heartbreaking and energy sapping court defeats and inquest disappointments the truth was finally revealed last September and the cover-up was blown apart. Up to 58 of the fans could have been saved, including her son Kevin. Anne and the Hillsborough mums won a battle against all the odds. But Anne was left drained and exhausted by the ravages of the battle for truth and justice and the curse of cancer.

She was wheeled to the High Court in London on September 12 last year to hear the official verdict of a new inquest being ordered but died in April this year and won't be here when the full truth is finally revealed.

Without her heroic efforts the victory for truth might never have been won. Anne Williams was a modern day heroine. An extraordinary 'ordinary' woman.

The Prime Minister in 1989, Margaret Thatcher, knew the truth. She was part of the cover-up. Both women died this year. Apparently some people want tax-payers money to be used to build a memorial to one of those women. The only one worthy of a tax payer funded memorial is Anne Williams.

Well Said Pope Francis

I know it's easy to have a pop at religion in general but at this time of year in particular people find solace in their Christianity.

At my parish the Christmas Eve 7pm Family Mass will be overflowing with people and goodwill. Midnight Mass will be traditionally busy as usual. The love and humanity which is the bedrock of our shared faith will sustain us through difficult times. And many of the recent statements by Pope Francis raging against obscene poverty and inequality fill me with hope for the future. I particularly like what he had to say about trade unions: "Trade unions have been an essential force for social change, without which a semblance of a decent and humane society is impossible under capitalism".

Well said Your Holiness.


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