Royston man's memories of fire disaster

A ROYSTON man who lost his sister and brother-in-law in the Bradford stadium fire has made an emotional journey to attend a memorial service. Robert Winspeare of Weston Avenue, Royston, travelled north to Bradford on Tuesday to take part in a ceremony wh

A ROYSTON man who lost his sister and brother-in-law in the Bradford stadium fire has made an emotional journey to attend a memorial service.

Robert Winspeare of Weston Avenue, Royston, travelled north to Bradford on Tuesday to take part in a ceremony which marked the 25th anniversary of the disaster, in which 56 people, including Mr Winspeare's sister Irene McPherson, and her husband Gordon, died.

He said: "It was a very sensitive and well put together event, and certainly hit the mark as far as I was concerned. The Lord Mayor of Bradford gave a very moving address, and the keynote speech was made by the Archbishop of York, who also spoke very well.

"I've never been up there before so it was the first chance I'd had to talk to some of the other families about what happened."

The fire broke out at Bradford City's Valley Parade stadium on May 11, 1985, and happened during a match between Bradford and Lincoln City, which was supposed to be a celebration of Bradford winning the Division Three title.

Mr Winspeare said: "Irene didn't even like football, and neither did Gordon. They weren't fans, and as far as I know that was the only match she had ever been to.

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"Because Bradford had just won the title they were giving away a lot of free tickets, and Irene and Gordon received two.

"They thought it was an opportunity not to be missed to celebrate with the fans. Unfortunately they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."

As the pair weren't football fans, Mr Winspeare wasn't initially aware that they were involved in the fire.

He said: "I watched the scenes unfolding on television, and didn't think Irene and Gordon might be involved until my mum rang and said she hadn't been able to contact them.

"It was an awful weekend, not knowing what was going on, and when they didn't turn up for work on the Monday we knew something was the matter.

"The only slight consolation for us was knowing that they were together when they died."

The ceremony took place in Bradford's centenary square, and was attended by more than 200 people.

As well as the 56 who died, more than 250 people were injured in the blaze, which is thought to have started when a spectator dropped a match or cigarette through a hole in the wooden stand on to rubbish which had accumulated below.

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