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Hillsborough survivor Christopher to appear at inquest

51 year-old Chris Whittle at his family home in Burnley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday August 27, 2012. Chris has written a book,

51 year-old Chris Whittle at his family home in Burnley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday August 27, 2012. Chris has written a book, "With Hope In Your Heart" telling the story of his experiences during the disaster and how he dealt with post traumatic stress disorder in the years afterwards. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

A Burnley survivor of the Hillsborough football disaster is to give evidence at the forthcoming inquest.

Liverpool fan Christopher Whittle has been summoned to the inquest in Wigan which is expected to run from April to December.

Christopher was in the Leppings Lane End stand where the fatal crush happened and, in subsequent years, has struggled to overcome what he believes is post-traumatic stress disorder.

The 52-year-old is also planning to give talks in schools and churches about his harrowing experiences on that fateful day on April 15th, 1989.

Christopher said: “It has been a long, hard fight to get to this stage, but we will finally get our say and I am pleased to have been called.

“I was one of the lucky ones but I have still suffered, psychologically, for many years since. I am still not right but I am getting there slowly.”

The original inquest into the disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans were killed as a result of a crush at the Hillsborough stadium was shrouded in controversy.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel, instituted by the government to investigate the disaster, recently released thousands of documents relating to the tragedy and its aftermath.

Families of the victims campaigned for many years for a new inquest to be held which has finally led to this new hearing.

Christopher, who has suffered flashbacks and nightmares since, now also faces a personal battle with the health service in Burnley.

He said: “I believe I am suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but the Burnley Community Mental Health team has so far refused to diagnose me with this condition.

“The psychiatrist who saw me didn’t even know what Hillsborough was. He got it confused with the Bradford stadium fire disaster. It preys on my mind because I have never had a proper diagnosis.”

In a bid to overcome his demons, Christopher wrote a book about his experience, “With Hope in Your Heart”, which is on sale in the Hillsborough Justice shop at Anfield.

Christopher is planning to give a presentation in the spring at St John the Baptist RC Church, Ivy Street, where he is a reader. He is also planning to talk at Blessed Trinity RC College.

Christopher added: “Last year was a bittersweet year for me personally. In November, I lost my father following a battle with cancer. Yet, just over a month later, I became a grandfather for the first time – real mixed emotions.

“I am just hoping now that this inquest will finally give some answers about what happened and why on that terrible day in Sheffield.”

 

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