James Robert Hennessy

James Robert Hennessy

Age: 29

Father-of-one James Hennessy, known to many as Jimmy, travelled to Hillsborough with friends, including James Delaney, who also lost his life. Jimmy was an avid Red who followed Liverpool FC home and away, including across Europe. The Ellesmere Port local had started-up his own plastering business shortly before the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

His sister, Karen Gooding, told the inquests: "Jimmy had ambitions. He loved his life. He was always there when we needed him." Jimmy's daughter, Charlotte Hennessy, said: "My dad will always be my hero, and I will always be a daddy's girl. No-one can take that away from me."

Portrait by his sister Karen Gooding

Our 'Jimmy', as he insisted on being called, was born James Robert Hennessy on 24 September, 1959 in Liverpool to parents Robert and Margaret Hennessy. I was 13 months old at the time and he was a welcome brother to complete the Hennessy family.

He was baptised at St Dominic's Roman Catholic Church and at the age of five, he joined me at the church school. We later moved to St Saviour's Roman Catholic School in Ellesmere Port, where our dad had started a new job.

Growing up, Jimmy used to enjoy fishing with my dad and I with the St Saviour's freshwater fishing club, where our dad was a member. We would all go in a minibus with our packed lunches and fishing tackle to various canals and lakes in Cheshire, fishing for that prized catch.

He also loved racing homing pigeons with my dad under the proud name 'R Hennessy and Son', and together they won many a trophy.

We used to go on family holidays to Butlins with our extended family and Jimmy enjoyed going because we had cousins of a similar age to us.

Religion played a big part in our family life. I remember we used to have to go to mass and he would tell our parents that he was going to eight o'clock mass, but go off and play with his friends. This memory still brings a smile to my face.

Jimmy had a great love for music and together we had a vast amount of LPs, some of which I still have. We spent many a night in each other's bedrooms listening to music. Later on, it was trips to the infamous Eric's Club in Liverpool, which led him to follow Deaf School, a local Liverpool band he went to see quite often in London.

It was after one of these trips he arrived home wearing a sixties-style jacket with a pork pie hat in one hand and a copy of The Jam's 'In the City' in the other, declaring that he was getting a Lambretta scooter, and he did.

At the age of 11, he attended Ellesmere Port Catholic High School, where he was a popular lad and indeed made quite a few close friends with whom he kept friendships throughout his life.

He liked school and he was a brilliant achiever academically, as reflected in his school reports. He enjoyed playing football and basketball for the school team.

When he started playing basketball, it wasn't that popular in the UK. One of his teachers introduced him to it when he was about 13. He was the first recruit for the basketball team. I remember he nagged my mum and dad until we sent off to America for a pair of Converse he needed to play. He also used to go to Anfield to watch football with our dad.

After leaving school, he attended Carlett Park College to do an engineering course, but after a year, he decided it wasn't for him.

At 17, he started as a plasterer's apprentice with Ellesmere Port Borough Council, where he became a plasterer. He got it into his head that he wanted to do Artex, which was the in thing at the time, so he went to London to do a course.

Around this time, a black cloud descended on the whole family, as our dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the spine. In May, 1980, when Jimmy was 20 and I was 21, our father passed away.

Around this time, Jimmy was introduced to a girl whom he married in December 1981. The marriage lasted only a few years, after which he returned home with his faithful companion, a dog named Spike.

I remember him saying that the one good thing to come out of the marriage was the arrival of his daughter, Charlotte, whom he loved dearly.

As time went by, he had two little nephews, Graeme and Iain, to whom he was godfather and whom he found highly amusing.

In the coming years, Liverpool Football Club played a big part in our Jimmy's life. He watched them at home and away and overseas. He was a proper Liverpool supporter. He went to Rome, Paris and Germany to see his club play. He used to do at least one football-related activity once a week.

He also enjoyed being captain of the local pool team, but it was not something he showed off. He was a very private person. In the pub, he would sit silently on a ledge between the pool table area and the bar until it was his time to play.

He was very unassuming. That said, he was very much into his fashion and having unusual stuff. He always had to be different from everybody else and be the first to get the latest thing.

He loved to run. He ran about five to six miles every day without fail. He was addicted to it.

Jimmy had everything to look forward to. He had started a new relationship and just launched his own plastering business around the time he died. The business venture proved to be successful, thus enabling him to take on two young lads as labourers. He had a lot going for him and I was proud of him.

As the saying goes, he was tall, dark and handsome. He had lovely grey eyes and, though he wasn't one for smiling, he had a lovely smile when he chose to share it. It is a smile I still see in my daughter, Victoria, today.

Jimmy was a man of very few words with a witty and dry sense of humour. He loved to laugh and banter with his family and friends from Sutton Way.

Jimmy had ambitions. He loved his life. He was always there when we needed him. I remember that after my dad died and I got married, it was just him and my mum in the house, and we were a very close-knit family.

Jimmy was very close to our mum. To her, he was especially precious, having already lost her first son, Stephen, when he was a baby. Her love for him is endless and, 25 years on, she still grieves for him with a broken heart that will never mend, all because he went to watch a game of football. 

As mentioned above, he was a quiet and extremely private person. I would like to think that he wouldn't mind me writing all this about him. I would hope he understands that I had to talk about him because, you see, he was not body number seven to me. He was 'Our Jimmy': her son, my brother. 

 

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Portrait by his daughter Charlotte Hennessy

Jimmy Hennessy is my dad. I only had six little years with him, but they were some of the best years of my life. As I was so young when he died, my mum and aunts have helped me to prepare this statement.

My dad was a beautiful person. He was quiet and kept himself to himself. No-one had a bad word to say about him, nor he them. He had lots of friends and was liked by all who knew him.

He was a good looking man. He loved clothes and always had the best of the best and was so vain. He is well remembered in our house for fixing his hair in the mirror every time he left. My dad was a mod with all the attire, including a green Lambretta.

He had a great sense of humour, very dry and very funny. The word 'gargoyle' used to make him laugh and he thought sloths were hilarious.

He was always up for a laugh, even at the expense of my aunty and her stripy socks.

My mum and dad met through friends in 1979 and started seeing each other in February, 1980.

My dad's favourite band was The Jam and, together with friends, my mum and dad would go and see them in Deeside and Liverpool.

On 11 December, 1981, my parents married at Chester Registry Office followed by a meal at The Witches' Kitchen. In May 1982, they got their first house. My dad was deeply loved by my maternal family. My nan and aunties loved him to bits. We were all very close and have treasured memories of him.

My Aunty Jacquie was just 14 when my mum and dad started dating and she remembers my dad's fantastic taste in clothes and being jealous of his lovely things.

She permed his hair once. This is a favourite memory of my Aunty Jo because, when my dad returned from his perming session, the curls were too tight and my dad was having a breakdown. Trying to be helpful, my Aunty Jo suggested he blow dry it. Needless to say, he was then modelling a big afro-frizz. He vowed never to ask Aunty Jo for advice again!

On Wednesday, June 9, I was born weighing a massive 8 lbs 14 ozs. 'Goody Two Shoes' by Adam Ant was number one in the charts and Jimmy Hennessy, the mod, became a daddy. He named me Charlotte.

His passion was LFC. He went to games in the UK and abroad. Bill Shankly was his hero as well as, of course, our King Kenny and Ian Rush. My dad referred to me as 'Red, White and Gold', which were the colours of our kit at the time. He was over the moon when I was born and I think it's fair to say that little Charlotte Hennessy and LFC equalised.

My dad loved going out with his friends, Charlie Tigs and Steve. They were in a band and he would go and watch them at the Bull's Head with my mum too. His favourite book was Kes, which was my favourite book in school too. His favourite film was 'Quadrophenia'.

I know a different side to Jimmy Hennessy. I know him as 'Daddy', the man who I adored. He threw himself into parenthood - he would change my nappies, did his share of feeds and he loved taking me out in my pram.

He worked hard to provide for me as a self-employed plasterer and, to this day, the smell of plaster reminds me of my dad.

What my dad's mates don't know is that he would let me play with his hair and put bobbles in! I would paint his nails. We would play in my Wendy House and we were always at the park. I was a 'Daddy's Girl', and I still to this day have the pram he bought me.

My mum and dad divorced in 1985 but it never affected our relationship. I remember my dad being a part of our lives every day. I used to think he had magical powers because I would sit behind my Nanny Hennessy's sofa and pick my nose and every time he would say, "Stop picking your nose!", and I never understood how he knew.

Two weeks before my dad died, my mum and aunty went out as my Aunty Jo was moving to Jersey. My dad was looking after me. When I was in bed, I was messing around with a green wooden beaded necklace which got tangled in my hair.

I was worried about being told off and I crept downstairs, knocked on the living room door and in my little Scouse accent said, "Dad, I've got me beads stuck in me hair." It was no problem, though. My dad sat and patiently untangled the necklace, brushed my hair and carried me back to bed!

That's one of my last memories of him. There are no words to describe how much I miss him. My heart broke the day my dad died and losing him broke the heart of my family too.

Whenever I was hurt and needed a hug, my dad was there with a hug, but when my dad was hurt and needed a hug, I couldn't give him one.

To date, we have lost out on 9,145 days and not one goes by when I don't think about him. We have lost out on 25 Christmases, 25 of my birthdays and 25 of his. That's a lot of hugs.

Today, my dad is also a grandad to my three beautiful little boys, Liam-James, Joseph and Jacob. My boys and my mum are what keep me functioning.

At times when Hillsborough consumes me and makes my heart ache, they make me realise life is worth living and that my dad lives on through us. I always tell my boys about their granddad.

They call him 'Special Grandad, the brightest star in the sky' and enjoy being the first to spot him.

People are quick to tell me, "You were too little, you didn't really know your dad", but I do remember and I did know him. It is like a part of me is missing. I am incomplete.

We had so much to do together, so many more memories to make and Hillsborough took that away from us. Hillsborough took my dad away from me like he was nothing and nobody, but he was everything to me.

Losing my dad at Hillsborough stole my childhood from me and took away my best friend. It left me in a life of anger and bitterness and depression. I don't want to live in the shadow of Hillsborough anymore and when all this is over, may my dad rest in peace.

My dad will always be my hero, and I will always be a 'Daddy's Girl'. No-one can take that away from me.

 

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You'll Never Walk Alone

Rest in Peace