Hillsborough survivor John Hammond is asking people to mark this year’s anniversary with a fundraising challenge – ’96 for the 96’.
He says: “It’s important that we still remember those who went to the game and never came home.
“We can’t attend the memorial service at Anfield this year – which was due to have been the last. But we can still pay our respects and remember those who lost their lives.”
And he adds: “In doing that, not only can we honour them, but we can raise money for a great cause, in their names.”
John, 43, from Claughton Village was just 12 when he went to the Liverpool v Sheffield game at Hillsborough with his dad, John Snr, and uncle, Mark, on April 15, 1989.
He was sitting in the Leppings Lane end where the tragic events unfolded.
John says: “We were higher up in the stand so I didn’t realise what was happening and going on until we were on the journey home.
“We had to stop off at someone’s house in Sheffield to call home – it was the days before mobile phones obviously – and I remember my mum screaming at me down the phone. She’d obviously been watching everything unfold on TV and didn’t know what had happened to us.
“Then it really hit home as the death toll started increasing. It was one dead, then three, then more. It was just horrible.”
John has organised and taken part in a number of events to raise money and awareness over the years including running from Hillsborough to Anfield.
“I guess that’s what’s helped me to cope and deal with it, that thought that so many people set off to a football match, saying goodbye to their families and never coming home. I’ve never watched too much about it, the documentaries and so forth, but I have raised money and done things to remember those who died. That’s my way of dealing with it.
“The last time I did the run from Hillsborough to Anfield with my friend Steve Kelly who lost his brother, we started from inside Hillsborough and laid a wreath. That helped.”
He adds: “We can’t go to the memorial service this year because it’s been cancelled due to the coronavirus. But we can still do something to remember the 96. It’s important to do something. Me and my family were lucky enough to make it home, but I have friends whose loved ones didn’t, as have others.”
John, an oil refinery worker, is asking people to complete fitness challenges with the numbers 9 and 6 in, and make a similar donation to Wirral University Teaching Hospital which is supporting Arrowe Park and Clatterbridge Hospitals in their fight against Covid-19.
“For the 96 and for their families, I am asking people to take part in any exercise that involves the number 96. It can be a .96 mile walk when people go out for their daily exercise, it can be a 9.6 minute walk, or 96 sit-ups or press ups – anything they can do at home or as part of their allowed exercise.
“I’m not encouraging people to go outside, there’s lot of stuff they can do at home.
“All I am asking, is that they share it on social media so people can see they are supporting the 96.
“They can donate to the fundraising account that’s been set up with 96p, or £9.60… again anything with those numbers in.
“If people can take part they will be getting involved in remembering those who died, and raising money for a good cause, the NHS – to thank them for all they did on that awful day, and to say thank you for the amazing work they are doing now.”
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