Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton

Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton

Age: 23

Skelmersdale's Andrew Sefton possessed a memorably dry sense of humour that remained a firm part of his character upon moving south for work. Although a Tottenham Hotspur fan, he drove to Hillsborough with his Liverpool-supporting friends, all of whom survived. He had plans to travel abroad and live with friends but then met Helen, fell in love and became engaged. 

His sister Julie told the inquests: "My brother's life was like a book that had a title, an introduction, described the characters, set the scene and then someone ripped out the rest of the pages."

Portrait by his sister Julie Fallon

This is a very difficult thing to write about and share with strangers, particularly because after 25 years I fear I won't be able to fully describe or capture the essence of my brother, and partly because the older I get the more I realise how ridiculously young he was when he died.

Indeed, he was younger than my daughter Maria is now and he has been dead longer than he was alive.

I can tell you about his personality, his hobbies and all the facts of his life, but essentially all I will be doing is painting a picture of the vast majority of well-loved and well-brought-up young men at the end of the 1980s.

Ironically, given the nature of his death, it will also be hard to distinguish him from the crowd, but I will try.

He was christened Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton, named after just about every male family member and this was a source of embarrassment to him his whole life. He hated filling in forms and school registers and indeed I still wince for him at every memorial when the names are read out.

He was a beautiful toddler - blonde curly hair, blue eyes with a turn in one of them from a difficult birth, little blue NHS glasses tied with string, shy and quiet. But as he grew, he developed a dry and understated sense of observational humour.

With only three years between us, he was my only sibling and we were close, the kind of close that doesn't need dissection or declaration but just is.

Our family of four was like a child's jigsaw puzzle with four individual pieces, all different interlocking shapes making up the whole picture. When he died not only was the picture then incomplete, but nothing else would ever fill the space that he left.

At the age of three, there was a concern about Andrew's lack of speech. My parents started having tests done to uncover the cause. It turned out to be unnecessary as one evening my parents could hear voices coming from my bedroom and came upstairs to find Andrew and I chatting in bed.

It transpired that he had realised very early on that he didn't really need to talk for himself as his big sister would do it for him, just as I am doing now.

As he grew, Andrew stayed a home bird, much like my daughter, one of the very many similarities that we observe but that she has never had the benefit of experiencing as she was only 10 weeks old when he died. She has had no other aunts, uncles or cousins in her life and she feels the void in a very deep and concrete way.

Andrew struggled with secondary school and was only ever really himself at home amongst his family, making the distant, violent nature of his death all the worse for my mother in particular, who couldn't reach him when he needed her most.

After all, both Andrew and I had spent our lives giving my mum three rings when we got to wherever we were going to tell her we were safe. My mother never got Andrew's three rings.

As a teenager, he had a nice group of friends. He enjoyed football despite a cartilage operation at 14. He had an increasing political awareness and developed his own morals and principles, going on anti-unemployment rallies and picketing the hare coursing at Altcar.

He liked punk music, the louder and angrier the better. He nicknamed my mum and dad 'Bid' and 'Codge' and was excellent at extracting money from them and making them feel like he'd done them a favour somehow.

Throughout his teens he also continued to develop a sharp wit from which no-one was safe, dry and insightful just like my father.

The 1980s were a hard time for young men who had not done well at school and Andrew struggled like many others to find constant employment, eventually reluctantly working down south as a security guard, his height, big build and quiet temperament suiting the position, I guess.

Young brothers and sisters don't tend to talk a lot to each other about their plans for the future, but in a letter he sent to my mum and dad whilst working down south at Pontins, he not only displayed his sense of humour and his love of family but also his hopes for the future.

It reads: "Dear Bid and Codge. Well, here is the long awaited letter. First off, let me apologise for not writing sooner. Please try to realise that it's not apathy or laziness on my part, it's just the hours I work.

"I will write to Julie when I've finished this. How are Nana and Grandee, Eddie and Ivy? I'm really enjoying it here. Everyone is sound. We have to all get on because we're virtually all in the same position.

"Nearly everyone has had money troubles and this is the only way to save up and get a bit of money behind them. I'm saving quite hard because I want to go abroad at the end of the season.

"I've got a few options open, Andy Leekah wants me to go to Portugal and Brian wants me to go to Israel. I've also had about four offers of sharing a flat in Weston for the winter.

"I'm now also an official Head. Believe it or not this is an honour and nearly unheard of in your first season. Being a Head means I get to go to all the best parties that only the Heads are invited to.

"I'm also one of the elite. In fact, I'm also in the X-Men. The X-Men are a tradition at Pontins. We terrorise anyone we can for no reason at all.

"Our last raid happened on Sunday morning at 4am when we broke into some girl's room - she had gone home for the weekend, so we took everything out of her room and rearranged it identically on the roof of her shed. No-one knows who the X-Men are, but everyone lives in fear of them.

"I have also enclosed two letters from the big bosses because of my exploits last week in capturing two vicious desperados. I think the letters should explain everything, so now even the Governors love me as well."

He didn't get to travel or move in with his friends. He did, however, meet a girl called Helen and got engaged. A young, underdeveloped relationship, but they laughed a lot and who knows where it would have gone? Who knows? 

My brother's life was like a book that had a title, an introduction, described the characters, set the scene and then someone ripped out the rest of the pages.

An incompleteness that was, for my deceased parents and continues to be for my own family, the central, longest, most overriding topic of the last 25 years of our lives.

We no longer have an inkling of what life without Hillsborough looks like, and ironically neither did my brother - who knows?

 

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