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Bradford mourns, 30 years after fire

11 May 2015, 21:32

Bradford - More than a thousand mourners gathered for a touching memorial ceremony at Bradford's Centenary Square on Monday to mark the 30th anniversary of the fire that killed 56 football fans.

The Valley Parade football stadium burned during a game between Bradford and Lincoln on May 11, 1985, killing 54 home fans and two Lincoln supporters.

Many of those who gathered wore Bradford's distinctive claret and amber colours as they listened in silence as the 56 names were read out to the tolling of the bell in the City Hall clock.

Among those reading the names was John Helm, the ITV football commentator who famously described the unfolding chaos as flames quickly engulfed the wooden stand shortly before half-time of an end-of-season clash.

As well as Mr Helm, Bradford manager Phil Parkinson, club skipper Stephen Darby and Shaun Harvey, the chief executive of the Football League and former City chief executive, all read out names of those who died.

Also read: English soccer pauses to remember deadly 1985 Bradford fire

This was followed by a minute's silence and then a rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" played by The City of Bradford Brass Band and sung by Opera North soprano, Victoria Sharp.

As well as the 56 people who died, more than 200 people were taken to hospital following the blaze, many with terrible injuries.

Some of those who attended on Monday are still living with the injuries they suffered on that day.

Alan Stockdill, 61, described how he watched the fire break out 30 years ago from the neighbouring stand and then returned to help the day after as a special constable.

Stockdill said: "Today was a beautiful service. It was wonderful the dignified way that the Bradford and Lincoln supporters have remembered this. It's wonderful. We're proud of being Bradfordians today. It's quite emotional to come here today."

The build-up to today's anniversary has been overshadowed by a new book by Martin Fletcher, whose father, brother, uncle and grandfather died in the fire.

The book claims that the fire was one of nine that occurred at businesses owned or linked to the club's then-chairman Stafford Heginbotham.

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