Never forgotten: Liverpool marks 30 years since Hillsborough disaster

City falls silent as pictures of all 96 victims are shown on banner at St George’s Hall

The bells on Liverpool’s town hall tolled 96 times and the city stood silent on Monday to mark 30 years since 96 men, women and children were killed at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough football ground on 15 April 1989.

The pictures of all 96 were displayed on a banner across the front of the St George’s Hall, which proclaimed “Never Forgotten.” A lantern for each was laid on the steps and people paid respects throughout the day, laying wreaths and Liverpool football club scarves.

The youngest person to die at Hillsborough, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was only 10; the oldest, Gerard Baron, was 67; 37 of those who died were teenagers and 25 were fathers; one victim, Inger Shah, was the mother of two teenagers. Altogether, 58 people lost a parent in the disaster.

A supporter outside St George’s Hall.
A supporter outside St George’s Hall. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Hundreds of people, including relatives of those who died, survivors of the terrible crush on the Leppings Lane terrace, Liverpool politicians, friends and supporters, attended a memorial service at the Anglican cathedral. Many of the bereaved families went to a private service organised at Liverpool football club’s Anfield home, where people also paid respects on the Kop.

Mersey ferries sounded their horns, the town hall bells rang and the minute’s silence was held at 3.06pm, the time the semi-final was stopped when South Yorkshire police officers realised that people were trapped in critical trouble in the Leppings Lane “pens”. A bell was sounded 96 times at the cathedral service, which took five full minutes, while the congregation stood in silent commemoration.

In recent years, Liverpool’s Anglican and Catholic cathedrals have alternated holding an annual memorial service, as the families’ public services at Anfield have been cancelled due to ongoing legal proceedings – new inquests held from 2014-16, followed by criminal prosecutions.

People take part in a one-minute silence outside Liverpool’s Saint George’s Hall.
People take part in a one-minute silence outside Liverpool’s Saint George’s Hall. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Sue Jones, the dean of Liverpool, said in her opening address: “We have wept for the deaths of the 96, wept with the trauma of the survivors, and we have continued to pray for truth and justice.”

On 3 April at Preston crown court, a jury could not reach a verdict on the charge against the Hillsborough match commander, the former South Yorkshire police Ch Supt David Duckenfield, of causing the deaths by gross negligence manslaughter. The Crown Prosecution Service is seeking a retrial, which Duckenfield is set to oppose. The hearing is scheduled for 24 June.

Graham Mackrell, Sheffield Wednesday’s club secretary and safety officer in 1989 was convicted of breaching his duty of care for the safety of Liverpool supporters, due to the allocation of inadequate turnstiles, which first led to a crush outside the ground.

Two former South Yorkshire police officers and the force’s then solicitor are facing charges of perverting the course of justice in a trial planned for September, which is likely to be rescheduled if Duckenfield does face a retrial.

The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, and lord mayor Christine Banks stand on the steps of St George’s Hall.
The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, and lord mayor Christine Banks stand on the steps of St George’s Hall. Photograph: Eleanor Barlow/PA

Jenni Hicks, whose two daughters, Sarah, 19, and Vicki, 15, were killed at Hillsborough, said: “Today was about remembering the 96 people who lost their lives, how much they were loved, how precious they were to their families, and how much they are still missed. Thirty years on, the families haven’t known a life since without being part of legal processes.”

Steve Kelly, whose brother Mike, then 38, was killed, paid tribute after the cathedral service to the people of Liverpool: “This city has always supported us; it’s such a beautiful, special place, we really know the meaning of community,” he said. “It has helped us so much, and it has been infectious – our support is worldwide, and we
fully appreciate it.”