Hundreds of people have attended an open-air Commemoration Service in Bradford’s Centenary Square to mark the 30th anniversary of the fatal fire which ripped through Bradford City football club's home ground.
The blaze broke out during the 1985 match against Lincoln City, killing 56 fans and injuring many more.
The Commemoration Service was introduced by the Revd Andy Greiff, Chaplain to Bradford City Football Club, who led prayers while the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt. Revd Toby Howarth gave the Address, and the Revd Canon Philip Gray, Chaplain to the Lord Mayor, gave the reading.
The Bradford Lord Mayor himself, Mike Gibbons, welcomed visitors from home and abroad to the open air service which took place in a warm breeze and bright sunshine, and he laid the first wreath on the memorial, followed by other dignitaries, and relatives of some of the victims.
Bells tolled for each victim as their name was read out during the ceremony and a minute's silence was followed by an operatic rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone. Victoria Sharp of Opera North was accompanied by the City of Bradford Brass Band as she sang the football anthem.
In his address, Bishop Toby Howarth said many people had shared with him their first hand experiences of ‘that terrible day’. Something he said “that struck me powerfully is that what happened on the 11th May 1985 wasn’t just about Bradford City AFC, or the fans, but was, and continues to be, about the city as a whole. Something went deep into the heart of this city and the wound is still here. You don’t have to live here very long to be aware of it. Of course what’s also powerful is the way the terrible events that day brought the city together.”
The Bishop of Bradford also paid tribute to the work of the emergency services, hospitals, surgeons, those working with young people today, and many more. And referring to the reading from John’s Gospel ‘The Light Shines in the Darkness’ he said “The Light has not been overcome … God continues to break into our darkness, by his Spirit, even now, even here, even today. Believing and trusting in God is not about avoiding the pain but it’s finding the place where God is standing with us and enabling us to work it through with him and with each other. We do not walk alone.”
Fire engines parked on Centenary Square and a garland of flowers was placed on the Memorial Bell at the top of City Hall's civic staircase.
The bell belonged to the first fire engine to arrive at the scene of the blaze and was donated to the city by the fire service.
Football League Chief Executive Shaun Harvey, Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson, and captain Stephen Darby were also there.