ANNE WILLIAMS cuddles her cherished grandson – and sees in him the face of the 15-year-old son who was so cruelly snatched from her at Hillsborough.
Four-year-old Finlay flashes the sweetest of smiles, as Anne’s heart melts and her mind turns to the memory of much-missed Kevin.
“There are lots of things in Finlay that remind me of Kevin,” says Anne, 61, as she sits in the living room of her brother Danny’s home in Birkdale, near Southport, with her daughter, Sara, and Finlay – one of three grandchildren.
“He’s very loving and very clever – just like Kevin. And I get that glimpse or look from him sometimes and think ‘That’s Kevin!’.”
After the news that the Attorney General is going to the High Court to apply to quash the original inquest verdict, Anne says: “I feel now that I’m going to see it through. I can picture being at a new inquest, where a jury will hear the truth. This news has given me a new lease of life. I’ve felt well since I heard.”
After more than 23 years of intense campaigning, during which time she has been a brilliant thorn in the side of the Establishment, this should now be a better time for Anne Williams.
Everything changed for those who have been relentlessly battling for justice on behalf of the 96 Hillsborough victims with the publication, on September 12, of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report. Suddenly, after years of having doors slammed in their faces, the families and survivors were on the front foot.
But within a few short weeks, Anne – who had been in hospital in the lead-up to the report’s publication – was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer.
She recalls: “I wasn’t well on September 12, although this was before I knew what was wrong with me. It was an effort to get through the day – I was living on adrenalin.
"When I looked out that evening and saw the crowd on St George’s Plateau I couldn’t believe it. That report was excellent and it was an overwhelming day.”
Regarding her ill-health at the time of the report, she recalls: “I thought ‘I should be getting a new suit – and I should be feeling well. Trust me to be ill now at the end when I should be enjoying this bit’.”
After confirming the diagnosis in October, she told the ECHO: “I don’t want to know how long I’ve got because I just want to enjoy whatever time is left with my family and friends.”
Anne, who brought up her family in Formby, recently swapped the home she had made in Chester for Merseyside – to be close to her friends and relatives. These include her children, Michael, 41 – who has a four-year-old daughter, Grace, and lives in Ainsdale – and her daughter, Sara, 33 – who, as well as Finlay, has a 12-year-old daughter, Lena, and lives in Formby.
If he had survived Hillsborough, middle child Kevin would have been looking forward to celebrating his 40th birthday on May 27 next year.
But Anne, who, though living with brother Danny, has spent some time recently in Queenscourt Hospice in Southport – “My dad, Fred, died there,” she says – explains that she no longer thinks about what Kevin’s life might have been like.
She says: “I can’t think about that, though I used to for the first five or six years.
"But as time goes on you think ‘We will never know’. So in my mind, Kevin is still a 15-year-old.”
And, by all accounts, he was some boy – a boy to be proud of.
Anne says: “He was well-liked at Formby High School, always laughing and always bubbly. I worked in the Bay Horse in Formby and Kevin had a little weekend job there as a kitchen porter. Everyone there loved him as well – I remember him coming home from work one Valentine’s Day with loads of roses the other members of staff had bought him!
“He was clever, liked school, loved studying and lived for his football. His teachers always told me every time they saw Kevin in the playground he was kicking a football. He used to wear out the right toe of his trainers. He was also Genesis mad. He always had Genesis on – even while he was studying.”
Anne on how support from the people of Merseyside kept her going plus Kevin's one-time girlfriend Esther on her memories of him >>>