Crowds mourn Hillsborough mum

Anne William's coffin is carried into the church
Anne William's coffin is carried into the church Photo: ITV

Crowds have lined the streets of a Merseyside town to bid farewell to Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams.

Mrs Williams, one of the loudest voices throughout the campaign for justice following the 1989 football stadium disaster, was remembered at a service in Formby.

She died aged 62 on Thursday, April 18 after a battle with cancer.

Scores of people, many wearing Liverpool scarves, gathered in bright sunshine outside Our Lady of Compassion Church.

A hush fell over the street as the hearse bearing Mrs Williams' coffin pulled up.

It also contained a wreath of white flowers embellished with red roses that spelled out "Mum".

Bystanders watched as the coffin was carried into the church, followed by hundreds of mourners.

Coffin is led into Our Lady's Church in Formby
Coffin is led into Our Lady's Church in Formby Credit: ITV
Hundreds of mourners attended the service in Formby, Merseyside.
Hundreds of mourners attended the service in Formby, Merseyside. Credit: ITV

Mrs Williams spent almost half her life campaigning after her 15-year-old son Kevin died in the Hillsborough tragedy.

It was her fight to get his inquest verdict of accidental death overturned that is credited with leading to fresh hearings for all 96 supporters who died.

During the service, Mrs Williams's brother Danny Gordon, who has pledged to continue his sister's campaigning, said she had touched the lives of countless people around the world.

He said: "It's difficult to find anything to say about Anne that hasn't been said in hundreds of tributes to her.

"Anne has taken many knocks and setbacks throughout her life and always found the strength to get through them without becoming bitter.

"Anne touched many hearts throughout the world and has been an inspiration to many."

Holding back tears, he added: "She'll always be loved and deeply missed by us all.

"We'll never walk alone. She'll always be with us."

Mourners gave a round of applause following his tribute as the church organ began playing the hymn the Lord Is My Shepherd.

Following the ceremony, crowds who had been waiting outside watched in silence as Mrs Williams's coffin was carried to the hearse.

As the cortege departed for Southport crematorium, hundreds of bystanders broke into applause in a show of gratitude for Merseyside-born Mrs Williams's lifelong dedication.

Liverpool City Council, which ordered flags to be lowered to half-mast on the day of Mrs Williams's death, is also planning a further commemoration on Monday.

Mrs Williams defied doctors' expectations to attend her last public appearance at the Hillsborough memorial service at Anfield on the Monday before she died.

She was diagnosed with terminal cancer in October, but despite her ill health she carried on her campaign and attended a hearing at London's Royal Courts of Justice in December when the original inquest verdicts were quashed.

Speaking after the historic hearing, which she attended in a wheelchair, she said: "I am glad we never gave up. It has been hard, but we wouldn't have been here today."

She missed out on seeing the start of the new inquest process by a week as a hearing was held in London last Thursday which revealed the fresh probes would begin next year.

Mrs Williams was an early chairwoman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and later independently established Hope For Hillsborough (For Justice) in an effort to secure a fresh inquest into her son's death.

On three separate occasions, an appeal was made to the incumbent attorney general for a new inquest, only to be rebuffed each time.

The European Court of Human Rights also rejected the case in 2009.

The breakthrough was only achieved following the Hillsborough Independent Panel report last year.