England

Hillsborough stories: Peter Andrew Burkett

Peter Burkett Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests

Peter Burkett was a married insurance clerk living in Prenton. He travelled by car with friends including Jonathon Owens, a fellow victim.

This is the full statement to the inquests from his step-mother, Anne Burkett:

Mr Burkett's sister, Lesley Roberts, also provided a pen portrait.

I make this statement to the inquests in relation to my son, Peter Burkett, who lost his life in the disaster at Hillsborough Football Stadium, Sheffield, on 15 April, 1989. He was 24 years old.

Peter was born in February, 1965 to his mother, Linda, and father, Terry Snr. Peter's little brother, Terry, was born 10 months and two days later, in December, 1965, and they became very close brothers.

Peter also had a sister called Lesley.

Peter's mother, Linda, later remarried and went on to have two children, Michael and Sarah.

When he was a young boy, Peter went to live with his dad permanently. 'Big Terry', as he was known, was a single dad bringing up Peter by himself, but together the two of them were a family unit and they became closer than ever.

Big Terry managed to buy a house for them both to live in and Peter settled in school very well.

Peter was an avid football player and played for the local football team. He had a very wide range of friends, both male and female, and got on well with everyone he met.

His brother, Little Terry, and sister, Lesley, would come to visit and stayed for long weekends and the three of them had a lot of fun together.

Peter's brother, Little Terry, came to live with us when Terry Jnr was 14 years old. They were inseparable, sharing a room and even sharing the same bed for a time.

Little Terry looked up to Peter and Peter took him under his wing, attending the same school and sharing the same friends.

'Well-mannered'

Little Terry supported Everton, whereas Peter was committed to Liverpool, so there was the usual brotherly banter.

Terry remembers that Peter was the first one of them to grow a hair under his arm, so, being mischievous, Little Terry tried to pull it out.

The brotherly bond they shared lasted into adulthood and has never gone away.

The loss of Peter had a huge impact on Little Terry, as they were like twins. The gap that has been left is impossible to fill.

I had the pleasure of meeting Peter when he was 12 years old. I was struck by what a lovely, well-mannered boy he was and congratulated Terry on doing such a good job in raising him.

Peter was full of life and had a brilliant sense of humour. He had a beautiful smile with two dimples in his cheeks. Terry and I eventually married and, with my three children, Jason, Martin and Cathy, together we formed an extended family.

From the very start, Peter regarded my children as his brothers and sisters. If his friends ever asked, they were told by Peter that his siblings were not his step-brothers and sisters. He always used to say, "There is no 'step' in it. They are my family".

'Thrilled'

Cathy and Peter got on exceptionally well. As a teenager, Cathy used to put part of her hair up in a bobble so it stuck right up and looked awful. We all tried telling her, but she wouldn't listen.

In the end, we had to go to Peter and ask him to speak with her because we knew she would listen to what he said. Peter had a gentle word with her and within seconds the bobble was out. Cathy called Peter her cool big brother and looked up to him. They had a great relationship.

Peter was thrilled when Terry and I had our daughter, Jenny, together. Peter was so excited about having a new baby sister and, on the day she was born, he went out and bought a dress for her.

He adored Jenny and used to call her "our baby" and even had her photograph on his desk at work. When the time came round for her birthday, he always took great care in choosing the perfect present for her.

One year, however, he came home saying he had nearly been arrested. He was in the toy shop and didn't know what to choose. He was in there for nearly an hour and a half agonising over what to get for Jenny when the security guard came over to ask him what he was up to.

Peter grabbed the nearest toy and got that for Jenny, so she ended up with a pair of roller skates that she was far too young for. Peter and Jenny became close, although she was only four when Peter died.

She used to tell us not to cry because we could always get the bus to go and see Peter in heaven.

With there being so many of us, family life became very busy and hectic, but Peter remained close with his school friends who were always at our house adding to the fun.

Peter enjoyed Boys Brigade and was always involved in school productions as he loved the limelight.

Peter had his first serious girlfriend called Jane in 1979. Jane was a lovely girl and we have lots of photographs of her and Peter together. Her parents thought the world of Peter.

They dated for about two years, but they were young and eventually they went their separate ways. Even though Jane went on to get married, she was devastated when Peter died.

She came to see us and brought her husband, but she was inconsolable. It is a testament to the personality of Peter that he had such an impact on her life.

Peter was kind and always seeing the good in people. He had a zest for life and was such fun to be around.

'Deeply upset'

In 1988, Peter went to his work's Christmas party with his friend Jonathon Owens. They went in fancy dress, with Peter being dressed as the end of a horse and Jonathon as the head. He was game for a laugh and up for anything.

Peter and Jonathon worked together at the Royal Life Insurance Company in Liverpool where they became good friends, but both sadly died at Hillsborough.

All the young lads from the Royal formed a golf society named the Singleton 70s after the street that Peter lived on and the number 70 bus they got to the golf club.

They were a close group of mates and were deeply upset by the loss of their two friends. Their friends wrote a poem for Peter and Jonathon:

"The angels came, took two away. But Peter and Jon, their memories stay.

"This Corporal team, they help begin. Will in their names, go out to win."

Liverpool Football Club became a big part of Peter's life. He lived and breathed it and he would go to watch them play whenever he could.

'Time with Dad'

I remember one occasion when I washed his Liverpool hat because it was filthy and never heard the end of it. He said that he had been everywhere watching Liverpool in that hat and said that I had washed all the matches off.

Peter loved his family and his dad was his hero. Terry had done everything he could to make sure Peter was provided for and loved. He instilled in Peter the values he held dear and brought Peter up to be the lovely young man he grew up to be.

I was always proud of both of them for that and they were proud of each other. Terry taught Peter so much throughout his life and, as Peter grew up, they had long conversations about many topics.

Politics was something they often discussed together, and they would talk for hours on end, putting the world to rights. After Peter moved in to his own house, Terry would visit him at least every Sunday and they would go out for a pint together or play a round of golf.

I remember one day Terry came home to say that he had been around to Peter's house and he had obviously had all his mates round the night before. Terry said that there were people sleeping on the floor all over the place. We were glad to know that Peter was enjoying himself and having fun with his friends.

Before Terry died, he wrote a dedication to his beloved son Peter, which I would like to share now:

"My son, in your time there have been many, many wonders. The deepest oceans, the highest mountains, the four corners of the earth... why, even the stars themselves have been brought to within reach of our fingertips.

"Yet all of these miracles are as nothing when compared with the miracle of you. The world is a better place for you having been here, son.

"You were my legacy to this world, the most precious I could have bestowed. Rest peacefully..."

Peter and Terry had a wonderful life enjoying each other's company as father and son, but also as friends. They were the best of friends. They were soul mates.

When it came to Peter's funeral, we wanted to celebrate the happy person he was. Peter's favourite Liverpool player was John Barnes, so he would have been thrilled to know that John Barnes attended.

'Lovely nature'

Peter also had a police escort, so he would have loved being in the limelight. Terry and two of his friends recorded a Beatles song, Let It Be, that was played over loudspeakers at the funeral, and it was lovely.

All of Peter's friends attended, and we managed to laugh together, sharing memories. Peter's funeral was befitting for a young man and he went out in style.

When people die, they say that their loved ones only remember the good things about them, but with Peter, there are only good things to remember. He was that good. In fact, his nickname was 'Peter Perfect.'

He was always so polite and had a lovely nature. I can only imagine that, as he got pushed into people on the terrace, he would have been apologising to them. He was just that gentle.

The bond I had with Peter was very close and was like that of any mother and son, and I can say with all pride it was my absolute pleasure to be a mum to Peter.

Since Peter died, his friends have stayed in touch. His friends Sue and Paul Marlow wrote to us saying:

"We both knew Peter very well - he was an amazing friend; honest, trustworthy, funny, so good to be around.

"Peter was a younger version of his dad, Terry, and it is true to say that the apple didn't fall far from the tree in their case.

"Pete idolised Terry and inherited all his ways - from his integrity to his wicked sense of humour to his charm.

"They were both true gentlemen and had reached a stage in their relationship where they were good mates as well as 'dad and lad.'

"Peter loved his family and was very close to Anne and his siblings - he adored his sister Jenny, who, at the time, was just a toddler, but Peter was already besotted."

I am happy to say that in the last year of Peter's life he had been having the time of his life with his friends. He had also been dating Debbie for quite a while before he died.

'Happy days'

Although she has gone on to get married, she has stayed in touch with us and wrote the following:

"I consider myself blessed to have shared the last year of Peter's life with him as his partner and friend.

"I had known Peter since starting work at the Royal Life Insurance in 1987. We became good friends before that friendship developed into a relationship.

"We spent so many happy days and nights with our work friends in his last year. As a group of friends, we shared weekends away to Southport and Alton Towers.

"We also planned various nights out on the Royal Iris, in Liverpool and beyond. We had parties at Pete's house with sleepovers and would end up having races in our sleeping bags. They were good times.

"Pete loved his family very much. His dad, Terry, had brought him up since he was a young boy and he was Pete's world. They were more than a father and son, they were best friends.

"Pete looked up to his dad in every way and was very like him. He was certainly a chip off the old block. Pete spent many weekends with his dad and liked nothing better than sharing a pint and a game of golf and hanging out with him.

"Peter was increasingly proud of his dad Terry and would talk about the dad that raised him with real love, pride and humour. He told me how his dad's wife, Anne, was a mother to him and how proud he was that they had a little girl, his little sister Jenny, who he referred to as 'his baby'.

"He had a photo of little Jenny on his desk at work and his face literally lit up when he spoke of 'his baby sister'. He was so attentive to her and protective of her, he clearly adored her.

"I was so impressed by his genuine care and affection for her, it made me love him all the more.

"In addition to Jenny, Peter considered Anne's children by her first marriage as his blood family. I remember asking him, when I was getting to know him, about his family, trying to decipher who were his step-brothers and sisters, and he said to me, 'There is no "step" in it, Debbie. They are all my brothers and sisters'.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAnne Burkett reads a tribute to her stepson Peter Burkett

"Peter was an open, intelligent, funny, sensitive and kind man who had a great sense of fun and a lovely smile and a wicked sense of humour. He was emotionally intelligent and had the knowledge, confidence and ability to debate on any issue.

"He had an intelligent and considered opinion on just about everything.

'New opportunities'

"He spent time with my family and attended family parties with me. He took my younger brother, who was 15 years old, to watch Liverpool at Anfield. My brother, Paul, loved Pete's company and looked up to him.

"He still talks about Pete with genuine affection 25 years after his death, and my younger sister, Jane, adored him.

"Peter had plans for the future, which included education and travel. He was planning on going back into education to get a degree. When he was younger, he had been offered a place at Reading University which he had turned down and I knew deep down he regretted it.

"Had he not died that day at Hillsborough, I am convinced he would have pursued his dream of achieving a degree.

"He also dreamed of going to Australia to experience a different life with new opportunities.

"We spent New Year's Eve in 1988 together at a friend's house party and I remember his happy optimism that night, kissing me at midnight and telling me that it was going to be a special year for us. Little did we know what was ahead of us.

"We lost two dear and much-loved friends on that sunny Saturday, as Jonathon Owens, who died with Peter on 15 April at Hillsborough, was a very close friend within our close-knit group.

"We never recovered from losing our lads that day in April. As young friends, we shared the most traumatic experience of having to attend two funerals in one day of the lads we loved and who had been such a huge part of our every day working and social lives.

"Peter was such a lovely person and made such an impact on the lives of everyone who knew him. It is difficult to do him justice, but I hope I have been able to convey what a pleasure it was to know and spend time with Peter.

"He is very much missed by all who knew and loved him."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites