England

Hillsborough stories: Ian David Whelan

Ian Whelan, who travelled to the match on a Liverpool supporters' coach from Anfield, was 18 when he died in the Hillsborough disaster of 15 April 1989.

This is the full statement to the inquests from his father Wilf Whelan:

Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption Ian Whelan was nicknamed 'Ronnie' after his football hero Ronnie Whelan

Our son Ian David Whelan was born on 11 March 1970 in Warrington General Hospital. He was our first born, followed three years later by his sister Kerry, who he adored as soon as she arrived.

They always looked out for each other in the years that followed.

Ian went to St Oswald's Roman Catholic Primary School and then on to St John's Roman Catholic High School.

At high school, his friends called him the nickname "Ronnie", after his Liverpool football hero Ronnie Whelan.

They would call on the phone and ask for Ronnie. At the beginning, it really confused his mum and I.

Ian played football for both schools and went to Bulgaria with the St John's team. He was constantly playing football in the back garden whilst commentating to himself.

It was Graham, the barber in Warrington, who got Ian into Liverpool Football Club. Eventually Graham took Ian along with his family to matches on a regular occurrence. Eventually, Ian got his own season ticket, in 1986.

Ian was a son that any family would have been proud of. A young man just beginning to get on his feet in life.

He was a typical teenager with interests in music, computers, football and drawing.

One of his O levels was in art. He used to draw caricatures of footballers and send them to Anfield requesting that the players in question sign them and return them to him.

Most of the players did sign and return them to him.

After he left Priestly Sixth Form College, he got a job in the purchasing department with British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) in Warrington where he eventually met his girlfriend Joanne.

Joanne actually took Ian's old position after he had moved jobs within BNFL.

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Media captionWilf Whelan, whose son Ian died: "Me and my wife sat down and wrote what we thought needed to be said"

One of his highlights was to pass his driving test at the first attempt, which he managed to do just after he turned 18 years old.

His other love was music, especially U2. Joanne has told us that he insisted on sitting near the largest speaker in the cinema when he took her to see the U2 film Rattle and Hum.

'No hooligan'

He then sang it to her most mornings on the way to work and on the way home again.

On the fateful morning that he left to go to Sheffield for the match, he unexpectedly called at Joanne's house and left two red roses on her doorstep before continuing on his journey.

He didn't knock on her door because he knew that she was getting ready for work and he didn't want to make her late, so he just left them outside as a surprise for her.

That is just one example of his good nature.

He wasn't a football hooligan. He even attended mass of his own free will, every Sunday without fail.

My family feel that they have had to defend his good name for the last 25 years.

We would like to thank the coroner for this opportunity to do so again. Thank you.

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