England

Hillsborough stories: Lee Nicol

Lee Nicol
Image caption Lee Nicol had never attended an away game until Hillsborough

Lee Nicol was a schoolboy from Bootle, Merseyside who travelled by train from Liverpool with two friends who survived. He became the 95th victim of the tragedy when his life support was switched off two days later.

This is the full statement to the inquests read by his mother, Patricia Donnelly:

Lee Nicol was born on 3 January, 1975. Lee was the youngest of my three children.

When he was born, his sister Joanne was nine and his brother Andrew, 10. I was delighted when I discovered I was pregnant with Lee.

He was a beautiful and contented baby, whose life was ended prematurely at the age of 14. Lee was a fun-loving child, but also had a serious side to him.

He loved school, he was a hard worker. He did very well in every subject but still had to work hard to keep up with his best friend Austin, who was naturally clever.

But Lee didn't mind the challenge, particularly from his close friend, because Lee was such a hard worker.

'Thirst for knowledge'

He could never understand why other pupils didn't enjoy school. He used to say, 'If you don't have an education, how will you get on?'

Lee's thirst for knowledge and learning didn't stop at school. He actively pursued learning Spanish. He wrote to his Spanish pen pal in Barcelona and would make me speak Spanish to him even though I only knew a few words. His love of learning was so refreshing.

Lee loved visiting museums, the planetarium too, although palaeontology caught his imagination. He was fascinated by the ancient civilisations like the Greeks and the Egyptians.

Lee had a particular interest in the life of Tutankhamen and wrote about him in his life. He spoke about saving up to go on a dig to New Jersey, although the appeal of New Jersey was probably the fact that Jon Bon Jovi lived there.

Lee adored Jon Bon Jovi from about the age of 11 and liked to have his hair cut like him. His favourite song was 'Living on a Prayer'. He would sing in his best singing voice and put his heart and soul into singing it, just like he did with everything he took his hand to.

Lee was christened 'Lee Jon Bon Jovi', just before his life support machine was turned off.

'Passion for football'

Lee greatly enjoyed sport. He played for our local boys' team along with his friend Austin. Austin was physically bigger than Lee and so had the edge on sport, but Lee was never far behind and was always up for the challenge.

He was also a member of a sports club outside of school. Lee's overriding passion was football and his love of Liverpool Football Club. I even recall 'Liverpool' being one of the first words he said.

He loved the team more than anything and was eager to get a job to contribute to his season ticket as he was aware that I didn't have a lot of money to spare. Lee took up a paper round in the morning and evenings and also a milk round in the mornings before school.

He worked hard and saved money to contribute towards his season ticket. Austin and Lee loved to go to the games together, though he had never been to an away game until Hillsborough.

Lee and I spent a lot of time together and it was only the two of us left at home. Both Andrew and Joanne were fully grown and had homes of their own. We used to cook and bake together. He would write down recipes, make non-alcoholic cocktails.

I once had stuffed mushrooms in a fancy hotel and Lee persuaded the waitress to write the recipe down. We made it at home and it was delicious. He did the same with an Indian restaurant we went to and he got the recipe for a chicken curry.

'Proud'

I had to buy all the ingredients, including saffron. It took about five hours to make, but it turned out lovely in the end.

Lee also loved making up his own recipes. I still have his cookery book at home.

Lee was greatly loved by all his family and had a wonderful circle of friends. Lee's friends came to visit him in the funeral parlour and stayed with him for a long time.

It was incredibly emotional and touching to see such a display of love shown to my son.

I can draw some consolation from the fact that Lee had managed to help others live on. He was a proud carrier of a donor card. I always remember it being taped to the side of his computer.

It is a testament to his kindness and Lee's donation has helped a number of people. Soon after Lee's death, I received a letter from a little boy's grandmother thanking me, as Lee's donation of his liver allowed her grandson to walk for the first time and join the school football team.

Lee's donation also helped two other women, as they received his kidneys. His aortic valves went to a gentleman outside the UK. Lee's generosity spread far and wide beyond just his family and friends. I am so very proud.

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