LIVERPOOL: The final Anfield memorial service to remember 96 football fans who died at Hillsborough will take place in April.
Memorial services have been held at Liverpool’s stadium in most of the 26 years since the disaster but now the Hillsborough families have agreed that this year’s service – on the 27th anniversary – will be the final one.
The decision to end the Anfield services was made by the Hillsborough Families Support Group after consultation with the relatives of those who died.
On Tuesday, Coroner Lord Justice Goldring adjourned the inquests, being held in Warrington, Cheshire, until 25 January when he expects to summarise the evidence for the jury.
Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the HFSG, said: “The 96 will never be forgotten. This final memorial service will provide the families with some closure.”
Mrs Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the disaster, added: “The HFSG would like to thank everyone for all the support the families have received over the past 27 years and all those people who have attended the service at Anfield each year.
“We hope that the public and fans respect the decision of the HFSG and will continue to remember the 96 in their own, perhaps more private, way.”
In the days after the disaster, Anfield became the focus of grief on Merseyside.
A carpet of flowers was laid over the pitch and a chain of football scarves stretched from the stadium, across the city’s Stanley Park and to Goodison Park, home of local rivals Everton.
On the first anniversary the club unveiled its permanent memorial to the 96 – a 10-tonne granite block inscribed with the names of the victims alongside an eternal flame.
Since then bereaved families, survivors, Liverpool players and managers have attended the annual service at the ground.
The service has been a very public show of remembrance – but also of the support shown to those affected by the disaster. More recently it has also helped keep the bereaved families’ campaign in the public eye.