Eric Hankin

Eric Hankin

Age: 33

Described at the inquests as hard-working and caring, father-of-two Eric Hankin was dedicated to his job as a staff nurse at Ashworth psychiatric hospital in Maghull. Eric also loved sport and had been watching Liverpool since the age of seven before he travelled to Hillsborough with 12 friends for the semi-final in 1989.

His daughter, Lynsey Barker, said: "A giant-shaped hole has been left in my heart since the day he died." His father, Eric Hankin Snr, told the court: "I love my son and I miss him every day of my life. I have lovely memories of him."

Portrait by his daughter Lynsey Barker

Dad was born on 26 October, 1955. Dad was born in Walton, Liverpool. Shortly after leaving school, Dad became a male nurse at Moss Side Hospital in Maghull, where he was to become a staff nurse.

Mum met Dad when she was 14 and Dad was 18. They met on a blind date. The date was part of a plan to separate Dad from his friend, Billy. Mum's friend, Christine wanted Billy to herself. One date was all it was supposed to be!

They married on 19 October, 1976. Mum was 16 and Dad was 20. They had two children: me, on 7 March 1977, and David Eric on 1 July 1981.

Mum and Dad had to adapt to a whole new way of life and it was turbulent - but they did it! Dad strived to move the family from accommodation provided by his employer in the Moss Side Special Hospital into a home of our own. Mum and Dad achieved in owning their own home, a car and what seemed at the time like a pretty good life with David and I.

Mum says Dad was an ordinary man. He was a son, a brother, a grandson, a son-in-law, uncle and brother-in-law. To Mum, he was the father of her children, her friend, her confidant, her lover and on occasion her sparring partner. He was like every one of us - yet none of us.

My Mum says that Dad wasn't perfect, but who of us here today could stand up and say they are? It was those imperfections, those quirks, those things we still laugh about as a family today that personifies the man he was.

It was these things that helped Mum and Dad learn about each other, taught them to make allowances and for them to grow together as a couple. Their quirks helped make them the couple they were.

They learnt to own up to their shortcomings, and agree to disagree. They could shout and scream at each other or cuddle and comfort each other in equal measure.

My dad was dedicated to his job as a staff nurse. He strived at his job to achieve promotion. He worked every hour of overtime to provide for his family.

Dad refused to pay for anything weekly. He would always wait until he had saved up the cash. It used to infuriate Mum, but she would wait, because she knew if it was within my dad's power, we would have it, and nine times out of 10 we would eventually get what we needed.

Dad tried his best to make us all happy. He would give us his all one minute and then moan about the price of a loaf for an hour. The standing family joke was that Dad could peel an orange in his pocket wearing a boxing glove.

To me, my dad was like a giant when I was growing up, a big friendly giant. He made everyone laugh. He never sat down at the table to eat without making the teapot yawn!

He spent hours teaching me how to ride my first bike. He took me to Crosby baths every Sunday to teach me how to swim. When I was little, he would take me out on the crossbar of his bike, although we did come off a few times as his coordination was as bad as mine! Obviously, it's where I get it from.

We went on holidays every year, both abroad and in caravans, with my nan and grandad, my Auntie Gill and Uncle Mark. Our family was full of love and laughter.

One of my earliest memories is when I must have been five years old, standing on a chair in my great-nan's bungalow singing his beloved Liverpool songs. I remember listening to stories of his times on the Kop, watching his favourites, Ian Rush and 'King' Kenny Dalglish.

When David and I were in the car with my dad, we had to hold our noses every time we drove past Goodison Park, and when we went past Anfield we had to salute! This is something I still do with my kids now.

My favourite days were when it was hot and my mum and dad would pick us up from school together. They would have a picnic in the car and we would go to Formby beach for our tea. Every time Dad would say, "I'll bring you here when you're 17 and I'll teach you how to drive." He never got the chance to.

He was a good dad. He loved me and I loved him, although if you saw him chewing his moustache, you knew to run for cover! He was annoyed about something and he had a giant voice as well.

As I got older, our relationship changed. I was not his little girl anymore. I didn't want to sit next to him on the bus into town any more. I sat at the back on my own pretending I was so grown up, even holding my own ticket.

Then came the time I asked could I go to the under-14s night at Fallows nightclub. He went white and said 'no' at first. After some persuasion, he said 'yes', but he was taking me and picking me up, so I agreed and he did collect me, although, when he picked me up, the car wouldn't start and all the other kids gave us a push. I was dying with embarrassment and he thought it was really funny. I never asked to go again. And I swear there was nothing wrong with that car!

Now I have my own children, Jack-Shankly, Michael Eric and Libby-Anne. They know all about their Granddad Eric. I only wish he was here to enjoy them in the way that we do.

As I have said, I loved my dad and he loved me unconditionally. A big giant-shaped hole has been left in my heart since the day he died. I've learnt how to live with it, but I don't think the pain will ever leave me.

Mum and Dad enjoyed watching a TV programme and one of the quotes from it was, "I am not a number, I am a free man." Describing someone you love is extremely difficult. How do you describe someone in a way only you knew them? How do you put down on paper what someone did, still does and always will mean to you?

This statement is a tiny part of a picture of a man, not a faceless fact or a figure. My family and I hope that this procedure allows us and our loved ones the freedom to finally rest in peace."


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Portrait by his father Eric Hankin Snr

I am the father of the late Eric Hankin Jnr who was born October 26, 1955. My son was a hardworking lad, married with two children until that fateful day on April 15, 1989, when he never came home from the football match in Sheffield, where he went to watch his beloved Liverpool Football Club play in the semi-finals.

He was an avid supporter of the club, both home and away. He first started attending football games at Anfield when he was about seven. I used to take him every Saturday. I would put him on my shoulders at the Kop, and after the match we would go for chips together on the way home. It was perfect, and he loved it, especially when the team won.

When he grew older, about 18 years old, he started going to the games with friends. They would go to as many games as possible, including the ones played away; sometimes abroad. When he was even older, he would come to the games with me. 

Eric had a normal, happy upbringing. I remember he was a bit accident prone. Once, when he was about four, he got his head stuck in between two railings trying to look at two newborn kittens. When I finally got him out, he came home and decided to tell Susan, his sister, about the incident. He took her back to the railings and he demonstrated what happened step by step. His head got stuck again. We had to get the fire brigade to cut him out this time, and he made us laugh.

He loved music as a teenager and he used to play his music very loud, which drove me mad. One of his favourite artists was Roy Wood from Wizzard. He used to play it so loud, I could hear 'Fire Brigade' blurting out from the bottom of the road to the house. When I told him to turn it low, he used to say to me, "Dad, you're getting old."

He loved rock and roll music and went to see Bruce Springsteen a few months before the Hillsborough incident. Our Eric was a caring lad. He loved people and sports. Once, he did a 24-hour football tournament for charity and he also did sponsored marathons.

When his children were born, he was excited. I remember he used to come around to the house every Sunday and we'd play a game of cards for pennies. He hated losing. He was such a bad loser that he used to say jokingly, "You're robbing the kids of their school money, you two." But he loved his children and I miss that family time.

Eric was a hard working lad. He and his mates used to work at a pig farm for money. They used to come home very smelly. But he got his first real job when he was 16. He worked in an office, which bored him to death, and he wanted to do something more useful with his life. Out of the blue one day, he told me he had started working at a hospital.

I recall teasing him and said he would pack it in in a week as I didn't believe he could clean bedpans and deal with sick people. I was wrong. He loved his job working at Ashworth Hospital where he cared for individuals with mental illness. Having started out as a junior nurse, he was promoted to the position of staff nurse and stayed in that role until he died.

Sometime after his promotion, he bought a car which he drove round to our house. My wife Vivienne remembers Eric teasing her and saying that she would be jealous of his new car because we only had an old banger. They laughed together as Vivienne went to see his car. This was the last time she saw him, but she still talks about him being respectful and a loving boy. He used to call her 'Steppy', and they bantered a lot.

Eric was friends with her son David, and they got on well together at school. Eric made a mark on his team at Ashworth and had real friends there. He went to the match with 12 of them; they all stayed to look for him when they couldn't find him at Hillsborough. He was the only one who didn't come back.

I feel very hurt and cheated to have lost my son at the young age of 33 with all his life in front of him. I love my son and I miss him every day of my life. I have lovely memories of him. But sadly, that is all I have left - just memories.


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You'll Never Walk Alone

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