Peter Andrew Burkett

Peter Andrew Burkett

Age: 24

Wirral-born Peter Burkett travelled by car to Hillsborough with several others including his friend and colleague Jonathon Owens, who also died. A proud Red, Peter was said to love football banter with Evertonians - especially with his younger brother 'Little Terry'.

Peter's sister, Lesley, told the inquests: "If you searched the world a million times over, you would never find anyone quite like Pete." His stepmother Anne said: "Peter loved his family and his dad Terry was his hero."

Portrait by his sister Lesley Roberts

At our mother's request, I make this statement to assist the coroner with a background statement about my brother, Peter Andrew Burkett, who lost his life in the disaster at Hillsborough football stadium on April 15, 1989. He was 24 years old.

Peter was born in Heathfield Maternity Home, Bromborough, Wirral, February 16, 1965, to our mother Linda and our father Terry. On December 18, only 10 months later, Peter's little brother, Terry, was born.

Two years later, November 1967, our brother Steven arrived. Tragically, Steven died in infancy just aged five months. On August 9, 1969, I was born.

As a young mother with three small children, my mum relied heavily on help from her family to raise us. We spent much of our early years growing up at our nan's house surrounded by family.

My grandad and Nan Ballinger lived close by with Janet, Phil and Sue, our maternal aunts and uncle.

Aunty Sue was only five years old when Peter (and Terry) were born and she remembers them being inseparable. They came as a pair, usually in matching outfits. The three played together as three small children, sharing family occasions, birthdays, Christmases (the annual grotto trip) and weddings too.

They made a cute little threesome as page boys and bridesmaids. They enjoyed 'days out', caravan holidays and day-to-day playtimes.

Entries from Sue's 1968 news book illustrate this most poignantly. Some of Sue's news books read as follows:

'a - Friday, December 13, 1968 - Today at dinner time my nephews Peter and Terry came to have lunch and when they had finished we played hide and seek.

'b - Monday, January 27, 1969 - On Sunday I went to play with my nephews. We played in the bedroom on Peter's rocking horse. I had a very good day indeed.'

Aunty Sue remembers Peter as a sweet little boy and childhood playmate who grew up to become a kind and gentle young man. She is only too aware of the sadness his death brought to Peter's nan, who loved him very much as her first grandchild.

In 1970, my parents' relationship broke down and my mother later remarried. In 1973 Peter, then aged eight, Terry and I moved with them to a farm on Anglesey in North Wales.

Peter never really settled on Anglesey and he missed his dad and his nan and the extended family in Merseyside. A few years later, when he was 11, he moved back to Birkenhead to live with our father.

Peter went to Rock Ferry High School from the age of 11 to 16 and was watched over by his Uncle Phil, who was a teacher at the school. He was a bright student and very popular.

He loved football and supported Tranmere Rovers and Liverpool. He continued to have a strong bond with his Nan Ballinger and, as a teenager, called in after school to do his homework and have his tea.

She loved having him there, although she would often badger him about his fringe being far too long. "Our Peter, get your hair cut. Your fringe is in your eyes. You've got a lovely face and we can't see it."

Nan's 'get your hair cut' speech to Peter was to become a regular feature in the years that followed.

Pete's maternal family ensured he was able to visit his family in Anglesey regularly. These long car trips through North Wales provided the opportunity for plenty of banter, mostly about football, and particularly if the driver was an Evertonian.

Peter's Aunty Jan recalls how Pete and his Uncle Ken would talk football throughout the journey.

Pete's passion for Liverpool Football Club was now fixed in stone and he would really enjoy a good Liverpool/Everton debate.

However, Pete was very conscientious and made sure that his weekend homework was done while travelling along. Aunty Jan remembers Peter as being a bright and intelligent boy with so much potential.

She remembers how he loved to kick a ball about, but most of all she remembers his lovely face and happy smile.

Throughout Pete's early and teenage years, I recall lovely caravan holidays with Pete and all the family from Merseyside in Prestatyn or in Butlins in Pwllheli.

Looking back at those photographs from those happy times together has given our family many reasons to smile.

During this time, our sister, Sarah, and brother, Michael, were born and Peter's family became even bigger.

Peter was 10 when his baby sister Sarah was born in 1975 and she remembers Peter's many visits back to Anglesey. She recalls how our mum would take them to feed the chickens, collect the eggs and brush the horses.

Mum loved teaching Peter to ride and Sarah would sit and watch them on the gate. They would have fun collecting blackberries and sloe berries and get very mucky in the process.

Mum surprised Pete with flying lessons for his birthday. He was so excited. He did very well and Mum was really proud of him.

Sarah often wonders how life would have been different if Peter was still with us. He would probably share his love of football with his nephew, Jay, who is just as passionate about the game as Peter was, albeit supporting different teams.

Jay often talks about Peter and drew a picture a few years ago which is still on display at their home. Sarah feels very sad that Jay was denied the chance to know his Uncle Peter.

Sarah was just 14 when Peter passed away and remembers all too well the pain that surged through our mum and the entire family.

Peter's brother Michael was eight when he died. He, too, has happy memories of spending time with Pete. He recalls how Pete would arrive on his motorbike and how he would happily indulge his little brother by riding around the yard holding Mike on the handlebars.

He remembers vividly playing snooker in the lounge. Peter once asked him: "Who is your favourite football team?" Michael, then aged about five, said he didn't really have a favourite. Peter grinned at him and said: "Liverpool. Liverpool are the best."

From that day to this, Michael has been a 'Mighty Red'.

Michael recalls: "One of my last and fondest memories of Pete was when he turned up at Lesley's wedding with his hair cut really short because my mum, and nan especially, always nagged him about his long fringe covering his eyes.

"I remember him laughing and rubbing his hands together when they saw him. I think of my brother every day and I only wish that I had more memories of Pete."

In 1979, my brother Terry went to live with Peter at my father's house in Rock Ferry. As brothers, they were very close.

When I was old enough, I would visit them as often as I could, they would treat me like I was so special, they were my big brothers and I looked up to them so much.

During this time, our father met Anne.

Anne had a daughter, Cathy, who lived with her, and two sons, Jason and Martin, who lived in Scotland. When the boys visited, we all got on really well and Peter, Terry and I came to think of them as our brothers and sister.

Peter's love of Liverpool Football Club was ongoing. He would go to most home games and away games when he could. Peter and Terry often visited matches together, but, as an Evertonian, Terry provided Peter yet again with more friendly football banter and rivalry, which, as you have heard, is common in many Merseyside families.

Peter and Terry grew in independence and continued to live together at my father's house in Rock Ferry into their late teens. Peter would visit my father, Anne and Cathy at their house often.

When he reached 20, our sister Jenny was born. As the baby of the family, she was adored by all, especially Peter. Eventually, our dad and Anne married.

Terry moved away to work in London and Peter brought his own home in Singleton Avenue in Prenton.

In 1984, Peter met Michelle. They worked together at the Royal Insurance Company in Liverpool. On September 6, 1986 they married in St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Tranmere.

Indeed, the familiar image representing Peter as one of the 96 was taken on his wedding day. Peter and Michelle had no children and, unfortunately, that marriage did not work out.

They decided to separate but remained friends. Sadly, Michelle has recently passed away.

On November 19, 1988, five months before the Hillsborough disaster, both my big brothers, Peter and Terry, walked me down the aisle on my wedding day.

Without a doubt, Peter was the star of the day. He arrived on the morning of the wedding, sidled up to my mum with a huge grin, saying: "This is a special occasion, Mum. I've cut my hair just for you."

Indeed, he had chopped off all his hair so my nan couldn't badger him about his fringe anymore.

At the wedding reception, he stood on a chair and made a speech that had everyone roaring with laughter. Later in the day, I found him surrounded by children, all laughing hysterically because he was playing with a doll, throwing it up in the air and making silly faces.

When my girlfriends arrived later that evening, I have never seen so many girls fall in love so instantaneously, positively besotted, all competing for his attention.

Four days after my wedding, I moved to Germany with my new husband. Sadly, I only saw Peter once again before that fateful day in April 1989.

It was impossible not to love Pete. He loved all his family and we all loved him.

There were so many people involved in shaping Peter into the beautiful person he became, but ultimately it was Peter who rose above all the challenges life threw at him.

He chose to be the best person he could be and to see the best in all those around him. Sadly, both our parents have passed away.

Peter looked so much like my mum in the early years and would not move from her side, he was so protective of her. As he grew older, he became very close to our dad. They were best friends, not just father and son.

If you searched the world a million times over, you would never find anyone quite like Pete. To us, he was unique. He was such a lovely, quietly confident person, gentle and kind, intelligent and thoughtful.

He was so full of life, so funny and charming, with many friends, both male and female. When he walked into a room, it would feel like somebody had switched a light on and everything was instantly brighter.

When he smiled, it warmed your body through to your soul. He made you feel special; in reality, he was the special one.

Peter touched the lives of all the people who knew or loved him. Over the last 25 years, as a family we have chosen to remember him privately, but he is always in our thoughts.

His passing had a huge impact on all of us. All our lives changed forever, most acutely for my brother, Terry; two brothers born so closely, inseparable as children.

To this day, Terry has not come to terms with Peter's death, the pain, the sadness and the anger. There is no doubt that his life would have played out very differently had Peter lived.

Time has passed and our family has grown. There are now nephews, nieces and cousins Peter will never know. He was denied this future at the age of 24.

Shortly before Christmas, five months ago, our mum passed away, aged just 66, before she was able to complete this statement.

She loved Peter with all her heart and said he was such a lovely child and he was born smiling. We are so proud of who Peter was and so lucky to have known him.

He is sadly missed but will live on in our hearts forever.

 

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Portrait by his stepmother Anne Burkett

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 April 15, 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.

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."

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.

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.

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 soulmates.

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.

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.

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'.

"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.

"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 April 15 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 everyday 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."

 

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