HOLDING it together as well as she did in front of the Hillsborough inquests was a surprise for Lechlade mother Margaret Godwin, who lost her son Derrick 25 years ago today.
The 75-year-old, of Hambidge Lane, stood before the jury and Lord Justice Goldring at the hearing last Thursday in Warrington, where she was asked to create a pen portrait of her son.
In front of 300 people in the specially-built courtroom, Margaret was surprised with how she stood tall, kept her voice strong and released her long-held memories of her son, who died aged 24.
“We (members of each family) each did a pen portrait. About 300 people were in the court, and I just got up there without any nerves,” she said.
“I surprised myself. I needed to do it for Derrick. It went off really well; each member of the family speaking of their loved one helped a lot of people.”
The decision to hold a new inquest into the deaths of the 96 people who died in the disaster was reached at the end of 2012, when Attorney General Dominic Grieve applied for the original verdicts to be quashed.
Mr Grieve said he applied to the High Court as a result of the Hillsborough Panel’s report, published on September 12, 2012, which said 41 of those who died might have been saved.
New evidence undermined the coroner’s summing-up, according to Mr Grieve, and he cited concerns about the timing of the fans’ deaths, the role of the police and the false allegations that alcohol had played a material part in the tragedy.
Margaret was flanked by her daughter Valerie, with husband Stan and son-in-law Andrew sat behind. She said her husband was a little too emotional and quiet to stand himself.
The inquest and officials involved were also praised by Margaret, in what are difficult, emotional and controversial circumstances for many involved.
“It was organised right down to the last minute, so to speak. It was lovely in a way. It did help us a lot. The lawyers and barristers were so helpful.
“There were also screens all around the courtroom with various pictures of whichever victim was being talked about the families. It helped the jury with forming a picture of the victim along with the words being spoken.
“It was very emotional, but nice people could sit in the witness box with their loved ones. Valerie (daughter) stood beside me and we were all in their together.
“It would have been a very different experience had I been in there on my own.”
Margaret said the court had not ruled out calling her and her family back to the hearing again at a later date, though she did not know when.
Margaret is with her family at Anfield in Liverpool today as a part of the memorial service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster.