England

Hillsborough stories: Raymond Thomas Chapman

Raymond Chapman Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests

Raymond Chapman was a married machine setter from Birkenhead who travelled with several friends, including Thomas Fox, who also died

This is the full statement to the inquests from his widow, Joan Chapman:

I, Joan Chapman, speaking on behalf of the Chapman family in relation to Raymond Chapman, will say as follows:

Raymond Thomas Chapman was born on 29 June, 1938 at Birkenhead. He was a machine setter for Champion Spark Plugs in Upton, on the Wirral. He was married to Joan Chapman and was a father to a son and a daughter.

He was described as a lovely man, a real gentleman, who was a great father and husband. He always kept himself very smart in appearance and was a fit and healthy man.

He was popular amongst his colleagues and had many friends. He had interests in photography and working on cars. He also loved going on a Sunday morning to watch the local pub play football.

Most of all, he loved going to watch Liverpool.

Raymond almost did not go to the match at Hillsborough. He did not have enough vouchers to qualify for a ticket to the game. At the last minute, a friend in his local pub gave him a ticket as he could not go. I then went with him to Liverpool to get the ticket.

Before he set off to the game on 15 April, 1989, we had arranged to meet friends at the Halfway House for a drink that evening.

'Never came back'

My lovely husband Ray went out on a sunny morning to go and meet his mates so they could go and watch Liverpool play. One of his friends was driving to the Sheffield ground.

He said, 'See you tonight. Love you, bye'. We were going out that night with our friends, so I got his clothes ready to go. He said, 'You go with them. I might be back late with the traffic'. As you know, he never came back.

The kids have married. I now have three lovely grandchildren that he would have been proud of. Rebecca has just gone to university, Thomas and Luke are doing well at school. They have kept me going.

Raymond travelled to Hillsborough with four friends. Only two came back.

I told the Liverpool Echo at the time that I would not be surprised if Raymond had lost his life going back in to help others.

Our children, Andrew and Karen, would also like to say that dad was a family man whose life was sadly cut short on 15 April, 1989 at the age of 50.

He had worked hard all his life since meeting mum, building for the future and providing to the best of his ability for his family, making sure we never went without and being a tower of strength in our times of need, always finding the words and actions required, helping us through life.

'Tragic'

Dad was a devoted husband and he and mum had a close, loving relationship, enjoying time together and socialising with family members and friends.

They had just started enjoying holidays and weekends away again on their own, now that the family had grown up. They were looking towards their retirement, but all this was so tragically taken away, changing mum's life forever.

This is something that she has never come to terms with, not being able to say goodbye, or to say she loved him one last time because of the tragic way he was taken.

Dad missed out on his grandchildren, whom he never got the chance to meet, and they missed out on a granddad, something he would have loved and been proud of.

'Pain and heartache'

My dad missed out on his role as the proud father on my wedding day. Our dad was a kind, caring, considerate man who always put others first, nothing was ever too much trouble for him.

He was always there to give us advice if we needed it and we did, from time to time.

Since his death, all our lives changed, with the pain and heartache of dealing with the disaster, bringing a huge strain on the family in the early years, as we all tried to come to terms with what had happened.

It was impossible to believe he would never be coming home.

We will never forget the pain that we have all been left with because of that dreadful day 25 years ago.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

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