A HIGH School gave Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall a VIP welcome as she paid a visit.

Margaret, who is chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, went to Rainhill High School for the event to speak to students.

Margaret’s 18-year-old son James was one of the 96 Liverpool Football Club fans who died in the fatal crush on April 15, 1989.

The disaster took place during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in the Leppings Lane terrace at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.

Margaret was invited to the school to talk to pupils about her long struggle for justice.

Students heard how Margaret, who was aged 41 when James was killed, fought for decades to have the original, controversial ‘accidental death’ verdicts overturned.

In 2009 the government eventually set up the Hillsborough Independent Panel to review documents relating to the disaster and in 2012 – 23 years after the disaster – bereaved family members like Margaret finally saw the ‘accidental death’ verdicts quashed and a fresh hearing announced.

In 2016, following an inquest lasting more than two years, the jury found that James Aspinall and 95 others had been unlawfully killed.

A criminal case is ongoing.

Margaret was accompanied at Rainhill High by fellow campaigner Sue Roberts, whose brother Graham also died at Hillsborough.

Rainhill High School executive principal, John Pout, said: “I feel privileged and humbled to have been able to welcome Margaret to our school today.

“Our pupils have heard a story of courage in the face of adversity, of determination to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, and it is something they will never forget. Margaret has given them an invaluable lesson in life.”

Liverpool fans with St Helens connections who lost their lives that day were: David Hawley, 39, from Thatto Heath and his nephew Stephen O’Neill who was 17, Nicholas Joynes, 27, whose parents lived in Sutton and Jonathon Owens, who was 18.

In 2016 Margaret Aspinall accepted a ‘Woman of the Year’ award from Prime Minister Theresa May on behalf of families of the 96 victims.

This month saw the 30th anniversary of the tragedy commemorated, with a minute’s silence held across the city of Liverpool on Monday, April 15 at 3.06pm, the time that the 1989 FA Cup semi-final was stopped. including at Liverpool John Lennon Airport and on the Merseyrail train network.

  • Have you got an education story? Send your news to news@sthelensstar.co.uk