England

Hillsborough stories: Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons

Vincent Fitzsimmons Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests

Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons from Wigan travelled to Hillsborough by coach with a group of friends who all survived.

This is the full statement to the inquests from his son, Craig Fitzsimmons.

His sister, Dorothy Griffiths, also provided a pen portrait of her brother to the inquest.

Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons was born to Bob and Joan Fitzsimmons in Liverpool on 30 January, 1955. He had an elder sister, Dorothy, and a younger brother, Robert.

Dad went to school in Liverpool before moving to the United States of America with his parents at the age of 13.

He lived there for three years before returning to the UK, settling in Winsford shortly afterwards.

In 1973, dad met mother, Susan Bukojenski, whom he courted for three years until they were married in 1976 at the Northwich registry office.

I was born in 1980, and was my parents' only child. Unfortunately, mum and dad divorced in 1987, but dad still spent a lot of time with me.

I understand it was a difficult time for both my mum and dad, but they both assured me I was not too affected by the divorce. Dad moved and went to live in Ashton-in-Makerfield.

'Larger than life'

He would come and pick me up from home on a Friday night after work and I would stay with him at the weekend. He would take me home either on a Sunday night or early on a Monday morning.

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Media captionFamily tribute by Dr Dorothy Griffiths to Vincent Fitzsimmons

I loved going to stay with him because he would always make sure that there were treats for me. He used to take me to the cinema and swimming at the weekends.

Dad was larger than life, as far as I was concerned, and could do no wrong in my eyes. I loved him so much.

He had a zest for life. He was friendly, outgoing and full of fun, and he was a very popular person, having lots of friends. He loved music and there was always music in our house.

I was so lucky to have him as my dad. I was just nine years old when he died.

Dad was extremely hard working and he was very ambitious as well. He worked at Linpak Mouldings for 16 years. During his time, he had worked his way up from being an operator to charge hand and eventually to being a supervisor.

'Patient'

He even went to college to complete a managerial course as he knew that this would enable him to get more promotions.

Dad used to encourage me to pay heed and listen to what the teachers told me at school, as he was always telling me a good education was so important. He was always very patient with me when I was doing my homework.

He helped me with my reading and spelling. I was impatient with my schoolwork, but my dad used to sit with me until I completed it. He encouraged me all the time to take care with my homework.

We both loved sport. Well, I suppose I got my love of Liverpool from my dad. He was an avid supporter of Liverpool and he used to take me to the Kop, lifting me up so that I wouldn't miss any of the match.

We spent many happy hours watching, listening, talking and indeed playing football. If I close my eyes now, I can see my dad playing football. He used to take me with him when he went training.

'Huge void'

Dad had a season ticket for Liverpool Football Club for the year 1988-89. I was lucky enough to attend several games with him during that year.

I know he tried his hardest to get me a ticket for the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, but he couldn't get me one.

When dad died, it left a huge void in my life. I suppose I never really got over the fact that I lost my dad so suddenly and in such an awful way.

I have missed his love, support and advice over the years. He was not present on the day that I got married and the birth of his first grandchild.

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