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Even though I’ve moved 150 miles away ‘it never leaves me’

Brian now lives 150 miles away in West Yorkshire but hasn't forgotten that night. Credit: ITV News

This year, Jane Davis would have been celebrating her 60th birthday but her life was cut short at 17 when a bomb exploded in the city centre pub she was in with her friends.

According to her brother Brian, she was the “intelligent one” and would almost certainly have been the first person in the family to go to university.

She was particularly good at science and her older brother believes that would have been the path she followed going on to "greater things.”

Jane had just returned from a holiday in France with her friend Maxine Hambleton. Credit: Family photo

Brian, aged 18, had just started work and was focussing on his own life, whilst his younger sister was still at school and studying for her exams.

“We had very different tastes, I was more of a Motown sort of guy and she was more of a Who and rock opera type person.”

He remembers her taping over Slade’s name on a festival poster and when he asked “why have you done that?” She replied, “Well no-one wants to admit they’ve seen Slade.”

At the time, Brian was into football and his brother John was busy working behind the bar in the local pub.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Jane became the home-maker, looking after the cooking and washing because their mum was very ill with a brain tumour.

“At a very early age, she did have to take on quite a lot of responsibilities.”

Jane with her two brothers John and Brian at school. Credit: Family photo

Brian was also at school with Maxine Hambleton who became a good friend of Jane’s. The two met by chance during a summer job in a Birmingham department store.

Jane and Maxine had just returned from a working holiday grape picking in the Champagne region in France. On the night of the 21 November, the two girls had met in the Tavern in the Town to share photographs of their trip.

Brian on the other hand was in a pub in Solihull with some friends but he said following a long campaign of IRA bombings, people were wary about going out and the town was quiet.

It wasn't until a friend of Jane's knocked on the door to tell them that there had been explosions in town, that they started to wary about her.

Brian and his dad drove into Birmingham to try and find out what was going on but they couldn’t get past police cordons, so they gave up their futile search.

The following morning, after a sleepless night for all, Brian’s dad told him to go to work but he got a phone call about midday saying he should go home.

“That particular morning, I don’t look back at that with any fondness at all”

Brian said his mum never recovered from the devastating news. She had not long had a major operation to remove her tumour but she spent the rest of her life in a nursing home.

His dad also stopped work soon after Jane passed away, Brian said he “almost lost the will to live”.

In 1982, the family were also served more terrible news. Brian’s older brother John died in an industrial accident whilst working in the Middle East.

Brian eventually moved away to Nottingham and tried to avoid the news or anything to do with the pub bombings coverage.

He said the most difficult time was in 1991 when the Birmingham six were released from prison after being wrongly convicted for the attacks.

Brian remembers watching the TV coverage of them standing outside the courtroom with their hands in the air.

Brian now lives 150 miles away in West Yorkshire but said he initially wasn’t aware of the campaign group which had been set up by Julie and Brian Hambleton.

He first met with the Justice for the 21 group when he attended the 40th anniversary event in Birmingham but said he felt uncomfortable with the publicity around the campaign.

“Without doubt we are where we are today because of the profile of the Justice for the 21 group and how they managed to bring this back into the public opinion.”

Although there have been other terror attacks in the UK, Brian says the big difference for him and the rest of the families are that no-one had yet been brought to justice.

“In no way does that lessen the impact on the families and the victim’s cause I know how they will feel, but we sit here 43 years on from what was the biggest, at the time, terrorist action in the UK and the biggest loss of life since Manchester and 7/7 and no-one’s been brought to justice.”

Brian Brian still has two postcards that Jane sent him from France. Credit: ITV News

Brian doesn’t have many photos of his sister left but he still has two postcards that she sent to them from during her holiday which he keeps in a box with other memories.

“I think she’d likely to be remembered as a lively, intelligent and popular girl”

Although he says his memories of his time with Jane have faded, he always looks towards the anniversary of her death each year with ‘trepidation’ because the pain never goes away.

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