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Ellesmere Port woman who lost her dad at Hillsborough talks about the 26th anniversary of tragedy

James Hennessy was one of the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives on April 15 1989

Charlotte Hennessy with father James, who died in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster

Charlotte Hennessy has lived in the shadow of the Hillsborough disaster since she was six-years-old.

Over the past 12 months the mum-of-three has endured both the emotional and mental toil of attending the new inquests into the 1989 tragedy on an almost weekly basis.

But for Charlotte, who lived in Ellesmere Port as a child, nothing proves more difficult to deal with than the eve and day of the anniversary of that fateful afternoon, which changed her life forever.

April 15 marks 26 years since 96 Liverpool fans went to the FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield but never returned home – among them was her 29-year-old dad James Hennessy.

“The day before is always a lot harder,” admitted Charlotte, 32. “The 14th is the hardest because you know that was the last day we ever lived a normal life.

“That was the last day I lived with a mum and dad, care and worry free. Of course, the 15th is sad and upsetting.

“Every day on the 15th you’re looking at the clock thinking would he have got to the ground around now, wondering what he was thinking. These are questions that run through your mind.”

(Image: Andy Teebay)

It wasn’t until she had her first child that Charlotte, who moved with her mum to Flint from Ellesmere Port shortly after the tragedy, started to research the disaster and began her journey to find out how her dad had died.

She will be at Anfield tomorrow (April 15) for the annual memorial service – something she only started attending five years ago.

“Before then I’d always dealt with it privately,” said Charlotte. “I used to spend the anniversary completely on my own.

“It wasn’t until I got to know the other family members that I started going to Anfield. Now there is no other place I’d rather be on the day. We’re just like one big family.”

Charlotte has spent much of the past year attending the new Hillsborough inquests in Warrington , providing updates of the proceedings on social media.

'I'm there to represent my dad'

“It’s been very stressful,” she admitted. “Not just emotionally, but mentally stressful. You sit there for six hours a day trying to take everything in.

“Then you have to try and digest it and before you know it you’re back there again. It’s really hard. Above all, what has been the hardest has been listening to the admissions that have been made.

“But I’m there to represent my dad. It’s part of the process of closure and grieving.”

Charlotte paid an emotional tribute to her dad during the new inquests last year when the first few weeks were set aside for each family to provide “pen portraits” of their loved ones.

A statement was also read out on behalf of Holywell mum Joan Hope who lost her 18-year-old son John McBrien in the tragedy.

She said: “Even today the pain of losing John has not gone away. His death was completely devastating to our family – he was such an amazing son and brother and we all miss him deeply.”

Steven Brown, who was brought up by his grandmother in Holt, near Wrexham, was also among the 96 victims.

His widow Sarah, who was pregnant with their daughter at the time, told an inquest jury how he dreamt of being “the best daddy ever”.

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