Sister gives intimate insight into Bromsgrove Hillsborough victim's life

By Carl Jackson Thursday 10 April 2014 Updated: 11/04 20:13

AN INTIMATE insight into the life of Bromsgrove man Andrew Brookes who died in the Hillsborough tragedy has been heard at the new inquests into the disaster.

The statement called a 'pen portrait' gives the jury an idea of his life, character and personality before they reach a verdict on the cause of his death.

One will be read out for each of 96 victims of the 1989 tragedy.

Below is Andrew's pen portrait in full, read out to the inquest in Warrington on Wednesday (April 9) by his sister Louise Brookes.

"My brother Andrew Mark Brookes was born on December 10, 1962 in Bromsgrove , Worcestershire. He was the first child and only son of George and Gillian Brookes, and he was my older brother. Andrew was nine years older than myself.

"Andrew worked at Land Rover at Longbridge, where my dad also worked and so did most of his friends.

"Andrew was a lovely man, who I was very, and still am, immensely proud to have as a brother.

"He had the patience of a saint, and I can honestly say that. Due to the nine-year age difference between myself and Andrew, he was more like a father figure to me than a brother.

"He was very strict and he didn't tolerate any nonsense off me.

"He was a very dignified man, and he didn't like any attention being drawn to himself.

"I remember my mum saying, 'From the moment he got up until the moment he went to bed, he would say good morning and good night, and I hardly knew he was in the house for the rest of the day'.

"From as long as I can remember, he was always a Liverpool fan.

"I remember his bedroom being covered in posters and scarves and he had a football sticker book and collected the stickers when he was younger.

"He was always really happy when he opened the little slip and there was a Liverpool sticker inside.

"Andrew was a very sporty person; he loved his football, golf, darts and snooker.

"He was the manager of a local Sunday league football team called Bromsgrove Dynamo. He also had many trophies for his darting skills.

"I can honestly say that I have never heard a bad word said about my brother.

"He never gossipped about anyone or fell out with people, as he wasn't that kind of person.

"He also never got into any trouble with the police during his life.

"I remember my mum saying after he died and West Midlands Police had brought some of his clothes back in a plastic bag: 'The only time Andrew ever brought the police to my door was when they brought his clothes back. I couldn't have wished for a better son. He never once brought me any worry or any trouble'."

"Andrew was a very law abiding and a very disciplined, honest, reliable and trustworthy person.

"He had a lot of integrity and morals, and I feel very blessed to have had such a wonderful brother.

"He taught me a lot and he made sure that his feisty, chatty sister stayed on the straight and narrow.

"Education was extremely important to him. He was very academic, especially when it came to mathematics and English. I remember him telling me that I had to apply myself more at school.

"I had so much respect for my brother. Andrew was 26 years old when he died at Hillsborough. He died four weeks before my 18th birthday. I felt that the Christmas of 1988 was when he was starting to take me seriously and I felt we were becoming closer. On Christmas evening, I remember myself and Andy walking back from my aunty's and I remember thinking to myself - 'He's finally taking his little sister seriously'.

"I can't explain how happy that made me feel. Up until then, I felt that I was always his irritating little sister.

"My brother was the apple of my mum's eye. He was also very close to my dad, as they spent a lot of time together sharing their sporting passions. My dad would go and watch Andy's football team on a Sunday morning and I would sometimes go too.

"I remember whenever there was a World Cup or a Euro competition, I would get back from school and the house would be packed with all my brother's friends.

"My mum made plates of sandwiches, crisps and biscuits for all of them. It became a tradition, that they always came to our house to watch the football.

"My brother's nickname was 'Dexy', after Dexy's Midnight Runners, because they were one of his favourite bands. Other bands that he liked included Human League and Spandau Ballet.

"His pride and joy was his car. His first car was a yellow Ford Capri and later he got his first brand new car, a red, of course, Maestro.

"I also remember him shopping in Birmingham at a shop called Olympus Sports where he would spend an absolute fortune on his clothes. He loved his Diadorra trainers, Farah trousers, La Coste T-shirts and Pringle jumpers.

"His favourite TV programmes were 'Brookside', 'Bread' and 'Boys from the Black Stuff'. He was Liverpool mad, whether that was football or TV programmes.

"My brother had a brilliant sense of humour and you could always have a laugh and a joke with him. He wasn't a moody or a nasty person, and I honestly can't ever remember seeing him drunk, although he did like to have a beer.

"Andrew was brought up to respect the police and my parents always told us that if ever we were in trouble, they were always there to help us. When my brother most needed their help, they literally turned their backs on him.

"I remember my brother's friends telling me after he died that the very first time my brother went for an Indian meal he asked them what the mildest curry was, and his friends decided it would be funny to tell him that a vindaloo was the mildest, which my brother proceeded to order. After the first mouthful, it became apparent that they had set him up. Instead of being angry, he took the joke as it was intended.

"On the day of Hillsborough, Andrew went with four friends: Mark Richards, Peter Wallis and two brothers, John and Stephen Harris. Although Andrew usually drove, on this occasion, at the last minute, Stephen stepped in to give him a rest."

"Andrew was really happy on the morning of the match. I remember him coming into the house and seeing him put two £20 notes in his pocket and that he asked me to tape Match of the Day for him.

"But I said I wouldn't, as I wanted to tape something else. I recall that he had spilled some orange juice on the work top and I was moaning at him because I'd put my sleeve into it. He dismissed my moaning with a laugh and went off as happy as he'd come in. I was the last one of my family to see him alive.

"After he died, the whole dynamics of our family changed. Andrew had been so important to all of us. Mum and dad never really recovered. Mum had a heart attack in 1996 and succumbed to cancer in February 2000. Dad just shut himself away, and he never went back to work.

"My dad passed away on March 4 this year, after a five-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. I only buried my dad ten days before these inquests began. It makes me so angry that both my parents have both gone to their graves without knowing how or why their son died. No parent should ever be deprived that right, especially for 25 years. I do not have any other family left now and it is up to me alone to fight for my brother.

"I am my brother's voice, as much as it irritated him when he was alive.

"I think of all the things we would have talked about, all the family occasions we would have gone to together, and I feel cheated.

"He was my big brother and I miss him more and more with each passing year. I just want to do my brother proud and get him the justice he deserves. I didn't just lose my brother on April 15, 1989, I lost my parents too. The whole Brookes family died that day.

"It has also taken my life away from me too. I don't live, I exist. I exist for one reason, and for one reason only, to ensure my brother's death was not in vain."

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