The parents of two teenage sisters who both died in the Hillsborough disaster have paid tribute to them as “bright, beautiful and innocent” young women.
In evidence to an inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans, Keighley businessman Trevor Hicks and his former wife Jenni recalled how 19-year-old Sarah Hicks and her sister Victoria, 15, died together “in horrific circumstances supporting the team they loved”.
On what would have been Sarah’s 44th birthday, Mr Hicks remembered her as an attractive, sociable person with a lovely disposition who took everything in her stride.
The long-standing Hillsborough campaigner, who split up with his wife two years after the disaster, said his younger daughter had exhibited a “strength of character and determination that was scary at times”.
Addressing jurors five days before the 25th anniversary of the tragedy at an FA Cup semi-final on April 15, 1989, Mr Hicks, who lived in Middlesex at the time of the disaster, said of his daughters: “They were very different maybe, but they were very much a pair. They had their arguments but they would defend each other to the death. Literally as it turned out.
“The loss of a child is one of the worst things that can happen to a loving parent. The loss of all your children is devastating. It’s not that it is twice as bad, it’s that you lose everything - your present, your future and then your purpose.
“The most difficult thing for me is the sheer waste of Sarah and Vicky’s life, of their talent and ability, but also their care and compassion.
“They lived together, they died together in horrific circumstances supporting the team they loved, and they are buried together. Need I say more?”
After standing beside her former husband as he read out his statement, Ms Hicks told jurors that Sarah, who turned down a place at Oxford to study chemistry at Liverpool University, had always looked after her little sister.
Victoria, meanwhile, had her heart set on becoming a sports reporter, Ms Hicks added.
At the conclusion of her statement, Ms Hicks, who was at Hillsborough on the day of the tragedy, said of her daughters: “You were two bright, beautiful, innocent young women. I left you as you went into a football ground, and a few hours later you were dead.”
Attributing the breakdown of his marriage to the loss of his children, Mr Hicks added: “Jenni and I divorced in 1991, again as a result of Hillsborough.”
On the fifth day of a series of “pen portrait” tributes at the inquest in Warrington, Cheshire, seven of the 10 victims remembered were in their teens.
Colin Ashcroft was described to the jury as a “well-rounded” guy who overcame difficulties to be as independent as he could.
The 19-year-old’s mother, Janet Russell, said Colin, who lived in Warrington, had a good sense of humour and a keen interest in politics.
Mrs Russell said she had been worried that her son planned to travel to Hillsborough, but decided not to stand in his way. Before travelling, he had studied the lay-out of Hillsborough on his ticket and had decided to stand behind the goal at the Leppings Lane end, the inquest heard.
The mother of 14-year-old Lee Nicol, who died in hospital on April 17, 1989, told jurors she took some consolation from the fact that her’s son’s wish to be an organ donor had helped others to live. Patricia Donnelly said Lee, from Bootle, was fascinated by ancient civilisations, loved school and visiting museums, and had kept a donor card taped to the side of his computer.