Royal Free Hospital secretary who died at Hillsborough was ‘loving and caring’ mum-of-two
19:29 25 April 2014
The daughter of a former Royal Free Hospital secretary who died in the Hillsborough disaster has told a jury how she and her younger brother were taken into care following her mother’s death.
Rebecca Shah, 42, broke down in tears at the inquest into the death of her mother Inger Shah, one of 96 football fans who died during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, on April 15, 1989.
Rebecca appeared as a witness at the inquest held on Wednesday in Warrington, Cheshire, and read a statement about her mother, who was 38 and lived in Golders Green at the time of her death.
She described the maternal instinct she had for her younger brother Daniel, who joined her in care after their mother’s death, and how the “need to defend my mother’s good name for a quarter of a century” had been “overwhelming”.
The court heard Rebecca’s mother was born in a fishing village in Denmark but left to become an au pair in London in 1968, before marrying and then divorcing their Indian father.
She took a full-time job as a secretary at the Royal Free Hospital, in Pond Street, Hampstead, in 1987.
Rebecca told the court: “My mum was still working at the Royal Free Hospital when she died. It was a shocking blow to all of her colleagues, many of whom attended her funeral.
“My mum was very loving and caring and she was the best mum anyone could hope for and my brother and I were very close to her.”
After moving to London, Ms Shah and her children became Liverpool FC season ticket-holders and joined the London and Essex Reds Liverpool supporters group to travel to matches.
In the lottery of cup match tickets, Ms Shah and her son got one each, but Rebecca did not - and mother and daughter rowed the night before, with Mrs Shah begging her daughter to travel to the game anyway in the hope of getting a spare ticket at the ground.
“We never made up and that makes her death harder for me to cope with,” Rebecca told the jury. “The memory of her begging me to go haunts me to this day.”
She watched the disaster unfold on TV with both her mother and brother on the Leppings Lane terrace.
“The effects of my mum’s loss on our family has been both immense and profound,” she said, as both she and Daniel, standing at her side, broke down.
She added: “My mother was not a drunken hooligan, nor a bad mother. On the contrary, this statement has shown her to be a loving, caring, devoted and loyal mother, as well as a warm-hearted, kind, generous, funny, brave and intelligent human being, one who is still so badly missed and much loved and always will be.”