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Honours for Hillsborough parents

A grieving mother and father who fought for more than a quarter of a century for justice for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster have collected CBEs from the Queen.

Margaret Aspinall's son James, 18, and Trevor Hicks's daughters Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15, were among the 96 Liverpool fans who were killed in Britain's worst sporting disaster.

They stepped away from the long-awaited fresh inquests into their deaths to accept the honour at Buckingham Palace.

After receiving her award, Ms Aspinall said: "It is quite obvious that she knew about Hillsborough because she did say 'Things are better for you all now, hopefully? Things are looking a little bit different now'.

"I know she cannot say much about it, I just said yes."

Mr Hicks described it as a day of "mixed emotions", saying that "it is the first time I have got something that I would rather not have had, for obvious reasons, but I am extremely proud to be here".

Ms Aspinall, who chairs the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), and Mr Hicks, who is president of the group, have been honoured for their services to the bereaved Hillsborough families.

They have been the driving force in the lengthy legal battle against the British establishment which saw the accidental death verdicts in the previous Hillsborough inquests being quashed and a new hearing ordered.

It has now been nearly a year since the fresh inquests, currently being held in Warrington, began.

Ms Aspinall said that she and Mr Hicks, both 68, felt privileged to be part of the honours ceremony but that "at the forefront of our minds is the inquest which is still going on and our hearts and our minds are still there".

This week the bereaved families, who have fought against the stigma and mudslinging shrouding the circumstances of the tragedy, heard Hillsborough police chief David Duckenfield, 70, agree that his failure to close a tunnel was the "direct cause" of the deaths.

He accepted he "froze" during the 1989 football disaster before he ordered the opening of an exit gate to relieve congestion outside the Leppings Lane turnstile.

Mr Hicks said: " I am very proud, chuffed today, but it is tinged with a lot of wishing it had all never happened. It is our day in many respects but we do share it with all the other families - and we must remember there are a few people who have died (since the tragedy) and they are not here to see the progress we have made.

"This is an award for us as individuals but I do think it is indicative of the campaign - a lot of blood and sweat and tears have gone in to that campaign for over 26 years, and there is probably likely to be another couple of years ahead."

The Hillsborough disaster happened on April 15 1989, during Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, as fans were crushed at the Sheffield ground's Leppings Lane terrace.

Verdicts of accidental death from the original Hillsborough inquest in March 1991 were quashed in December 2012, after the Hillsborough Independent Panel delivered its final report on the disaster earlier that year.

Ms Aspinall said this week has been "a very sweet and sour one" adding that "the reason we have got this is because of a campaign that everybody has been fighting to get truth and justice".

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