NewsCharity funds raised at 10th Anne Williams Golf Day
“You don’t mess with mums,” says Ste Martin, puffing out his cheeks, already visibly teary-eyed.
Ste has been asked to put into words what made Anne Williams, the tireless Hillsborough campaigner, so inspirational.
Behind him, the clubhouse of Huyton and Prescot Golf Club hums with activity.
On pristine practice lawns, the soft clicks of golf clubs pinging balls echoes, while on the terrace the dregs of pints are polished off.
Players edge towards the first tee, buzzing with excitement.
Ste, one of four organisers of the 10th annual Anne Williams Golf Day, wraps up his tribute with emotion seared into his features.
“How would you feel to be in that position, where one of your loved ones went to a football match and didn’t come home?” he asks.
“You’d do everything in your power to make sure that that story was heard. And that’s what Anne did.”
Anne’s son, Kevin, was just 15 when he was killed at Hillsborough.
From that April afternoon in 1989, through to her final days, she fought non-stop to unearth the truth about Kevin’s death.
Her sheer devotion and selflessness inspired an entire city.
Rocked by Anne’s passing in April 2013, Ste, along with fellow fans Andy Hudson, Sean O’Reilly-Doyle and Gareth Penman, organised the first golf day in her memory.
The awards were modest, the consolation prizes punishing.
At the end of the inaugural day, the lowest scorer was presented with a set of children’s plastic golf clubs. The next year, he was made to wear an Everton shirt for the evening’s party.
Ten years on and the prizes include a custom cart-bag donated by world-renowned professional golfer Tyrrell Hatton, and the shirt worn by Kostas Tsimikas as he became Liverpool’s Emirates FA Cup final hero at Wembley this year.
From humble beginnings, the day has grown to include 80 players and 25 caddies, with 140 people flocking to the evening’s celebrations.
Charitable organisations the length and breadth of the city have thrived thanks to vital funds raised.
And this year, the Inclusive Hub at Kirkdale Community Centre was selected as the chosen charity.
The hub was founded in 2016, helping small groups of autistic children in the local area participate in non-contact boxing and fitness sessions.
As its popularity grew around Liverpool, so too did the numbers and range of abilities of those taking part.
Today, the hub holds sessions for people with Down’s syndrome, ADHD; for amputees and wheelchair users; those with behavioural needs; and women affected by domestic violence.
“We’re a community company, owned by the community for the community,” explains Liam Starkey, a director at the hub.
“There’s a massive need for inclusion. A lot of children with autism or an additional need are sort of left to one side.
“We found, through what my dad was introducing, fun-based boxing was having a profound effect on children, medically. The mental health aspect for families was huge. They were getting massive respite just from something that we found was so simple.
“If anyone donates to The Inclusive Hub, if you give us £1, we’ll probably give you about £28 back in social impact. You are literally saving lives when you donate.”
As the golf day has grown in stature, so too has its reach and resonance, and in recent years a special bond has been formed with professional golfer Hatton.
The 30-year-old, who is an ardent Kopite, has consistently donated precious prizes, sending messages of support to those taking part.
“Myself and the team at Modest Golf would like to congratulate you all on 10 years of events in memory of a special lady – Anne Williams,” said Hatton, prior to the day.
“We’ve seen the articles on the LFC social media platforms from previous years and it looks like you all have a great day. We hope the 10th year is the best yet and we’ve sent another special item to support your event.
“Hopefully you get the weather, the golf and the atmosphere to have a brilliant day. We wish everyone who is playing the best of luck. All the best and enjoy it.”
And enjoy they did.
As sun broke through clouds and the banner bearing Anne’s image fluttered in the wind, players worked their way around the course.
And once the final holes had been played, the clubhouse came alive. The winners of various rounds were awarded their spoils before a sharp silence descended.
Stepping slowly but proudly out before the crowd came members of Anne’s family; her brother Danny, daughter Sara, and grandchildren, Lena and Finn.
Tears flowed, pride burst from each person in attendance and a spine-tingling standing ovation rattled around the entire room.
Ste stunned those in attendance with the raffle and auction prizes. A luxury seven-star safari stay in South Africa was claimed by Mick Clarke, before Tony O’Keefe scooped Tsimikas’ shirt, and the festivities could begin.
Ben Burke brought the house down with a powerful set, which was rounded off by the revellers joining arms to bellow out You’ll Never Walk Alone.
“The day is a reminder to me that good people can make a difference in the world,” said Wayne Scholes, long-term ambassador for the golf day.
“We are so proud to be able to continue our support of the event.
“So much good comes from the work done here, so many good memories, and so much help for worthy people working in their communities around Liverpool.”