A woman who was just six years old when her dad was killed at Hillsborough says she owes it to him to find out how he died on that fateful day.
Speaking on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, Charlotte Hennessy, from Connah’s Quay, admits she’s been “living in the shadow” of the 1989 disaster for most of her life.
Her 29-year-old dad James, from Ellesmere Port, was one of 96 Liverpool fans who died at the FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield.
The long-awaited fresh inquests into the victims’ deaths got under way in Warrington earlier this month, but will not be sitting this week due to the anniversary.
Charlotte hopes the hearings will finally bring her and the affected families the answers they so desperately crave.
The mum-of-three, who is at Anfield today (Tuesday, April 15) for the annual memorial service, was too young to understand the magnitude of what had happened or why her dad never came home.
“I knew he’d gone to the football, he always did”, explained Charlotte, who has three sons aged 11, five and two.
“Him going to the match was normal. It was like him going to work – it was the norm.
“I remember the family being upset. I was six at the time. I didn’t understand where he was.
“Obviously I’ve always wanted answers since he died as to what happened to him.”
It wasn’t until she had her first child that Charlotte, who moved to North Wales from Ellesmere Port shortly after her dad’s death, started to research the disaster and try to find answers.
She said: “When I had my first son I was 20 – a young adult. I did my own research and I knew something wasn’t right.
“I didn’t even know if he was in the gym, did anyone help him? It wasn’t until the Independent Panel that we got the answers.
“I hope it (the inquests) brings closure. Twenty five years is such a long time – it’s been my entire life.
“Hillsborough consumes me. It’s the first thing I think of when I wake up and it’s the last thing I think about before I go to bed. It’s on your mind all the time.
“When anybody dies the person has the right for their family to know what happened. I owe it to my dad to find out what happened.”
Charlotte added: “Having to read the reports it gives me nightmares sometimes. I can’t imagine what it was like to be there but I have to think that my dad was there and he died – I’m in that frame of mind.
“We try to be strong, but it’s really, really tough. It’s emotionally exhausting but it’s something I have to do.
“I try and protect the children from it but they are aware. They know their grandad went to a football match and died.”
Charlotte paid tribute to the Hillsborough campaigners who have spent the last 25 years fighting for the truth.
She said: “They’re not giving up and they’re not going away.
“I’m so grateful to them – if they hadn’t been so determined I wouldn’t have had this opportunity now being so young. They are an inspiration.
“I’ve only just come into it but I try and make a contribution."
A day-long event is taking place at the Whitby Sports and Social Club on Saturday, April 19, in remembrance of football fans who died at Hillsborough, including three young men from Ellesmere Port.
James Delaney, 19, James Hennessy, 29 and Christopher Edwards, 29, all died in the 1989 stadium disaster.
The community event will raise money for three local charities – a hospice, Ellesmere Port Hospital and Alder Hey Hospital, as well as the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
Daytime family fun events run from noon. Entry is £1 on the door.
The night event will have entertainment from Koo Ka Choo 70s group, a disco, raffle and a charity sports auction.
Tickets for the evening event cost £10. Call Whitby Sports and Leisure Club on 0151 200 7050.