TRIBUTES have been paid to three local football fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster.
Carl Brown from Leigh, David Rimmer from Skelmersdale and Vincent Fitzsimmons from Ashton were among the 96 people who died in the tragedy.
The inquests looking into the deaths of the Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989 were told Carl Brown was an extrovert young man whose interests including skateboarding and BMX. A pen portrait to Carl, 18, which was written by his mother Delia Evans-Brown, was read to the jury by family friend Karen Aspinall.
The inquest also heard about David Rimmer, from Skelmersdale, who left behind two children aged nine and seven and would have been volunteering with his son at a cubs football match if he had not travelled to Sheffield.
A third local victim was Vincent Fitzsimmons, who was aged 34 when he died at Hillsborough.
His son, Craig Fitzsimmons told the jury about his father, who was born in Liverpool, but moved to the US for three years when he was 13. Later he returned to England and moved to Ashton, and worked as a supervisor for Linpac Mouldings.
Mr Fitzsimmons, flanked by his mother Susan and wife Natalie, said: “Dad was bigger than life, as far as I was concerned he could do no wrong. I loved him so much. He was friendly, outgoing and full of fun. I was so lucky to have him as my dad. I was only nine years old when he died.”
His father, who played football himself, would hold his son up on the Kop as they watched their heroes play at Anfield.
He added: “When Dad died it left a huge void in my life. I suppose I have never really got over the fact that I lost my dad so suddenly in such an awful way.”
Speaking outside the court in Warrington, Leigh MP Andy Burnham paid tribute to Carl and the victims’ families.
Mr Burnham said: “So many of Carl’s friends are in touch with me and have continued to support his mum and keep his memory alive.
“As the court heard, he was just an ordinary Leigh lad with his life ahead of him. I think what this brings out is that Hillsborough is not just Liverpool’s tragedy, it is Leigh’s as well.
“What we have heard today is what people never got to understand at the time, that these were decent ordinary people.
“I’d also like to thank my office staff for the support given to Delia through this process, which has been very hard for her.”
The statement told of Carl’s close relationship with his older brother Mark and their love of computer games. Carl was also a devoted Liverpool fan, never missing a game, and had accepted a provisional place at Manchester University.
Ms Aspinall said: “He only had a short life but he was very fulfilled and happy and we were very proud of him.”
Mrs Evans Brown added: “He only had a short life but it was a very successfuland happy one.
“Carl’s dad, Terry, died suddenly at the age of 57 from a heart attack.
“Our family unit has changed forever but I visit them both every day and I know now that Terry is reunited with his son.”