Silent courtroom hears pen portrait of Wirral dad who lost his life in Hillsborough disaster

Wirral Globe: Silent courtroom hears pen portrait of Wirral dad Arthur Horrocks who lost his life in Hillsborough disaster Silent courtroom hears pen portrait of Wirral dad Arthur Horrocks who lost his life in Hillsborough disaster

A WIRRAL dad who died in the Hillsborough disaster has been described as full of fun and a man who lived for his family.

Families of the 96 Liverpool Football Club fans involved in the tragedy were finally given the chance to speak about their loved ones this morning, Thursday.

The son of Wirral man Arthur Horrocks was the first to read a statement on behalf of Mr Horrocks’ wife Susan which left many people in tears.

Mrs Horrocks, from Bebington, said the statement was the hardest thing she had ever had to write.

Described as a husband, best friend, father, brother and much loved uncle, his wife said the 41-year-old would be missed every day.

The dad-of-two grew up loving music and would often go to the Cavern Club on his school lunch break at the nearby Collegiate Grammar School.

He was described as passionate about sport and went to Liverpool home and away games.

Mrs Horrocks met her husband when they were 12-years-old and attended the same church and married when Susan was 18 and Arthur aged 22.

They enjoyed going to the theatre and taking their nieces and nephews to the cinema while family holidays with Jon and Jamie would be spent in Cornwall where the couple first went on their honeymoon.

The jury heard Mr Horrocks, who would take his sons to the park, always attended their parent’s evenings and joined in with the father’s race on sports day at Jamie’ school, was ‘full of fun and nothing was ever too much trouble for him to arrange’.

He left work as a bus conductor and became an insurance agent in the mid 70s and the court heard of one incident where Mr Horrocks came home with a poodle one day from a customer who could not pay their bills and the dog was ‘part of the family for many years’.

The statement from Mrs Horrocks added ‘as the man from the Pru, many of his customers phoned me in tears after his death’.

She said more than 800 people attended his funeral which showed how much he was loved.

Mr Horrocks’ sons’ school Bebington Grammar school also created the Arthur Horrocks Memorial Cup.

Speaking on behalf of his mum, Jon added: “It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do writing this statement but I hope goes some way to say what a wonderful husband and best friend he was to me as well as a devoted a much-loved dad, brother, uncle and friend and how much we will all miss him every day.”

The emotional statement was the first of a series of short biographies about their loved ones being read by the families of all those who died.

Details about nine of those who died are due to be heard at the court in Warrington, Cheshire, today with photographs chosen by their families also shown to the jury of seven women and four men.

The process of presenting the so-called pen portraits is due to take until the end of the month, with the inquest not sitting during the week of the 25th anniversary of the catastrophic events.

Yesterday jurors were told that none of the 96 victims should be blamed for their tragic deaths, which bereaved relatives welcomed as "music to our ears".

Lord Justice Goldring laid out key questions facing jurors in the fresh inquests into how the fans died, including how other supporters behaved.

Britain's worst sporting disaster unfolded when hundreds of fans were crushed at the FA Cup semi-final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool on April 15, 1989.

The coroner has outlined the series of inquiries that have already taken place into the disaster, including the previous inquests where the coroner took the "highly controversial" decision that those who died were beyond help after 3.15pm.

More recently, the Hillsborough Independent Panel was set up and issued a final report in 2012, but the jury was told that its findings are not evidence in the inquest.

Kathleen Thompson, widow of Patrick Thompson, had to stop a number of times to compose herself and wipe away tears as she read her statement flanked by some of her five children.

After outlining the life of British Rail guard Mr Thompson, who was 35, she said to the jury: "Please listen to the evidence and let my children know that their dad was not a hooligan but a hard-working family man who just happened to love football."

Mrs Thompson said that what "hurts the most" is that the youngest of her children have grown up with few memories of their father.

Wilf Whelan also told the jury his son Ian, who was 19 when he died at the stadium, was not a hooligan.

He said: "He wasn't a football hooligan.

"He even attended Mass of his own free will every Sunday without fail.

"My family feel that they have had to defend his good name for the last 25 years.

"We would like to thank the coroner for this opportunity to do so again."

Mr Whelan remembered how his son was nicknamed "Ronnie" - after his hero, the Liverpool player Ronnie Whelan.

And he explained how, on the day of the 1989 semi-final, he left two red roses at his girlfriend Joanne's door on his way to the match.

Mr Whelan said: "He just left them outside as a surprise for her.

"That's just one example of his good character."

In the fourth statement, Shirley Riley remembered her younger brother Roy Pemberton, who was 23 when he died at Hillsborough.

Standing in the witness box with her sister Gillian, she said: "Now we are left thinking about Roy and what he would have achieved - a successful career, a family and many more dreams.

"We will never know and we are getting older and he will not.

"Our parents were left devastated and never truly got over the loss.

"They longed to spoil their boy but it was taken from them.

"Gillian and I are only left with memories of our baby brother but we love him and he will always live on."

Walter Smith, in a statement read by a lawyer, remembered his sister Paula Ann Smith, who was 26 when she died.

He said: "Paula was quiet and shy by nature and happiest in her bedroom at home.

"She liked to listen to the Osmonds and enjoyed watching comedies."

She said her hero was Kenny Dalglish and her bedroom was full of Liverpool FC memorabilia.

Mr Smith said his sister was extremely close to her mother.

He said: "My mother never got over Paula's death. She was heartbroken, as was my father.

"I miss my baby sister Paula. We shared so many happy memories."

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