Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

‘This is all we live for now’ says sister of pub bombings victim

Julie Hambleton holding the bag that Maxine had gone out with the night she died. Credit: ITV News Central

Julie Hambleton has become a well-known face in Birmingham and across the country as the spokesperson for the Justice for the 21 campaign.

For over a decade, she and her brother Brian, along with other relatives of the 21 victims have fought to reveal the truth about what happened and bring those responsible to justice.

Despite Julie’s confidence in front of the camera when speaking about the campaign’s goals, she still finds it incredibly difficult to talk about the older sister she lost on 21 November 1974.

Julie says everyone remembers Maxine having a smile on her face. Credit: Family photo

Maxine Hambleton had just returned from an adventurous trip to France where she had spent her summer grape picking and putting her language skills into practice.

The 18-year-old had gone to the Tavern in the Town to meet her friend Jane Davis, who had also been on the trip with her and they were excited to look through their holiday snaps.

She was also on a mission to hand out party invitations, having just moved house with two of her brothers Brian and Paul. She wanted to celebrate by throwing a housewarming party.

Julie remembers Maxine as being a kind, clever and generous young woman, who adored her family and her younger sisters, who she liked to spoil in whatever way she could.

Maxine with Jane Davis - Maxine made the green flared trousers she is wearing in this picture. Credit: Family photo

Mackie, as they called her, was also a very creative person who used to make a lot of her own clothes and had ambitions to become a lawyer.

She was a fun-loving individual, well liked at school and she always had a smile on her face.

Being so young, Julie says she feels hurt that she doesn’t have many memories of Maxine but she can remember her sister play fighting with them and also peeling radishes.

“She put me on a chair and she cut the radishes and she said “If you put them in water they open up like a flower” and she put it in the water and slowly it opened up like a flower.”

“Every time I see a radish, I think of Maxine.”

Julie is a big fan of the television series Thunderbirds because she has fond memories of watching the episodes with her siblings, including Maxine.

“I think having my connection to Thunderbirds gives me my connection to my sister because I think it helps to give me moments that I can’t remember but I know are in there.”

Julie is still a big Scott Tracy fan to this day. Credit: ITV News Central

The night the bombs went off in Birmingham city centre, Julie remembers being at home with her mum watching the television when a newsflash came up.

The next day, Julie and her sister Jane returned from school and were told the devastating news that their older sister had been killed.

Julie says she feels proud that being part of the Justice for the 21 campaign is such a big part of her life and “she wouldn’t have it any other way”.

The family are completely supportive of Brian and Julie’s decision to lead the campaign for justice but she says they still don’t talk to each other much about Maxine because “it’s just too hard”.

Despite this, she says they will continue to fight for the truth knowing that it’s Maxine that keeps them all going.

Maxine’s bag and jewellery and the label from a bottle of Champagne she brought back from France. Credit: ITV News Central

More on this story