HUNDREDS gathered at Wallasey town hall today for an emotional memorial service on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
On steps overlooking the River Mersey and Anfield, they bowed their heads in silent tribute as a bell tolled 96 times to remember each of those who lost their lives in the tragedy.
Civic leaders including Wirral’s mayor Dave Mitchell and council leader Phil Davies paid their respects to those who died – twelve of whom were from Wirral and Ellesmere Port.
Wirral’s Young Poet Laureate Beth Heale, from Wirral Grammar School, read her poem We Will Never Forget, and Caldy Rugby Club Choir sang the Anfield anthem You'll Never Walk Alone.
A minute’s silence at 3.06pm, the exact time that Liverpool FC's FA Cup match was abandoned as the tragedy unfolded on April 15, 1989, saw the assembly turn to face Liverpool and reflect on those did not return home that fateful day.
Caldy Rugby Club Choir singing You'll Never Walk Alone
Wirral’s mayor Cllr David Mitchell said: “We are gathered now as a community to remember the terrible events that unfolded exactly 25 years ago.
“We remember the 96 who lost their lives including many songs of Wirral as well as their family and friends who continue to suffer.”
Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said Merseyside was united not just in grief, but in hope.
He said: “Twenty-five years ago today, 96 football fans said goodbye to their families as they started that most ordinary of journeys to watch their football team play. Tragically they never came home.
"The events of that day were terrible and heartbreaking enough, however the actions which followed compounded that pain, which endures even today.
“The families of those 96 are still in our thoughts and prayers today and the families deserve our absolute respect and admiration for their dignified, committed and resolute determination to find justice for their loved ones.
"They deserve our support as they continue that fight.
“Merseyside is united not just in grief but also in hope - hope that the whole truth will now be revealed, hope that justice will be served, hope that this will never ever happen again.”
In Birkenhead, shoppers also observed a minute’s silence.
Visitors to Birkenhead Market and Pyramids Shopping Centre took time out to pay silent tributes.
Among them were Margaret and Robbie Haldon from Bebington.
Their close friend Frank Hitchmough was among the many who helped in attempts to rescue those trapped in the Lepping's Lane terraces.
Hundreds gathered at Wallasey town hall to pay their respects
Margaret said: “We felt it is important to come out and pay tribute to the Liverpool supporters who lost their lives on that terrible day. They should never be forgotten."
Wirral mayor Cllr David Mitchell and Young Poet Laureate Beth Heale
Danny Doyle, marketing manager for Birkenhead Market, said: “It was a perfectly well-observed silence.
“It shows the disaster is still very much in the minds of Wirral people, particularly on the 25th anniversary.”
You can watch today's service at Wallasey town hall again here.