Stephen Paul Copoc

Stephen Paul Copoc

Age: 20

The middle of three children in a South Liverpool family, Stephen Copoc was a popular young man with a 'heart of gold'. He loved fishing and being outdoors and studied Botany and Horticulture after leaving school, going on to become a gardener at Sudley House. Stephen was engaged to be married to his girlfriend, Jackie, when he died.

His brother, Peter, said: "Our Stephen was just 20 years of age, but had maturity and a caring attitude towards others and even from a young age carried a donor card."

Portrait by his brother Peter Copoc

Stephen Paul Copoc was born on August 1, 1968 and was aged 20 years when he died at Hillsborough.

Stephen was the baby of our family, and the apple of our mum's eye. Our family consisted of Mum and Dad, I, Peter, my sister Angela and then our Stephen. I was 10 years old when Stephen was born. Angela was just seven years old.

Our dad took us to the hospital so that we could meet our new baby brother. Mum and Dad said that Angela and I could name him, and we did. Financially, we had little, but our parents, Agnes and Harold, made sure that there was lots of love in our house.

Stephen was such a joy to all of us. Mum and Dad only received good reports from Stephen's school regarding his conduct and application to his lessons.

Stephen's personality was such that people warmed to him instantly as he had an easy way with him. He was popular with teachers and made friends, having the ability to also keep friends. The friends that he made when he was small were still his close friends when he died on that awful day.

When we moved from Garston to our new house in Speke, Stephen had no problems adapting to the new environment, getting to know our new neighbours and making friends in an effortless and uncomplicated way.

I started work at 17. There was a shop in Garston called Smiths that sold everything. It's gone now. I bought Stephen a train set when I got paid. He was about nine at the time and wanted one.

As Angela and I were so much older than him, we kind of spoilt him, as he was such a lovable kid. I remember us both setting up the train set together and the joy Stephen got playing with it.

He was so careful about his toys. When he finished playing with the train set, he would put it away neatly. He minded his toys. He used to follow Angela everywhere, even if she was going out to meet friends he would follow her and she would complain to Mum and Dad about having to bring him.

However, one day someone told Angela that there was an accident on the road and that Stephen was hurt. Angela ran down the cinder path near our home towards the school crying. When she got there, she was told he had not waited for the lollipop lady and got a bump from a car. He was physically fine, but Angela was sobbing and so distressed at the thought that Stephen was hurt.

Angela was so good to Stephen and minded him throughout his childhood. All her friends knew him well because he was like her shadow.

Stephen started to take an interest in birds when he was about 12 years old. He started to study them and could tell you the name of most birds as well as their eggs. It was also around this time that he became interested in fishing.

We had cousins that were avid fishermen and they took him along to Speke Hall, which is a rural setting in a National Trust estate right in the middle of Liverpool. He just loved fishing there and knew all about the fish that lived in the waters there. He seldom, if ever, brought fish home to Mum and Dad. It was a joke in our house about Stephen catching fish, but he preferred to put the fish back into the water.

We think it was the birds and the fishing that started Stephen wanting to work outdoors. He appreciated being outdoors. He finished school at 16 years of age and studied for his City and Guilds in botany and horticulture. He could name any flower and plant and was perfectly at home with nature.

He applied for and got a job with the Liverpool Parks and Gardens based in Calderstones Park. He treasured his job and became a gardener at Sudley Hall in Mossley Hill.

He loved his work, the people he worked with, he enjoyed meeting all the visitors and telling them about the gardens. When Stephen was about 15 years old, he met his girlfriend, Jackie. They were very much in love and were engaged to be married when he died.

Stephen knew what he wanted from life. He was very close to our mum and his main ambition in life was to save enough money to buy our parents a house. He did not want them living in rented accommodation. He was mature and sensible for his age. He took out insurance policies in case anything happened to him, as he wanted our parents to have some money.

He was very caring to his nieces and nephews. When Angela's marriage broke down and she was on her own with her two children, Sean and Carla, Stephen with his girlfriend, Jackie, would babysit and play with the children, keeping them amused for hours.

He could have been out with his mates but knew that Angela needed time alone and his family always came first with him.

Stephen, of course, loved football. His love of football and of Liverpool came from our dad. The whole family travelled around to watch the matches, but not since 1989. After 1989 we gave the season tickets back and we never went to a football match again.

Stephen loved to play football as well. He was not the best of players, but he was like an encyclopedia when it came to anything about football generally.

Stephen was a great music fan. He was always playing Pink Floyd and, in particular, 'Shine on you Crazy Diamond'. He always loved Marillion and went to concerts with his four close friends.

Our parents never got over Stephen's death and the way he died. Our brother Stephen was one of life's genuine nice guys.

Our Stephen was just 20 years of age, but had maturity and a caring attitude towards others and even from a young age carried a donor card.

We miss Stephen from our family and think about what might have been for all of us as a family if Stephen had not died on that awful day. Thank you. 


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