Bantams support comes from 96-year-old City fire disaster survivor Kathleen (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bantams support comes from 96-year-old City fire disaster survivor Kathleen
At 96 years old, Kathleen Kelly still bears the scars of the Bradford City fire tragedy.
The great-grandmother experienced the agony of losing her best friend, Nellie Forster, 64, as flames ripped through the main stand at Valley Parade on May 11 1985 – and was left so severely burnt herself she was the last to leave Bradford Royal Infirmary’s burns unit after weeks of treatment.
Even now, the marks from where burning bitumen from the terraces dripped onto her face, back and shoulders can be seen. She is also missing a finger.
After surviving the club’s darkest day, the life-long supporter is now preparing for its most glorious.
Mrs Kelly lives at Howgate Nursing Home in Idle, where she and fellow residents will sit in rooms bedecked in claret and amber as the Bantams face Swansea in the Capital One Cup final.
Her son, Bob Kelly, 68, who works in the programmes department at Bradford City, last night told how his mother, then 69, owed her life to one civilian at the ground that day – David Hustler, who was later awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his brave and quick-thinking actions.
The hero, despite severe burn injuries to his hands, head and legs, also saved a boy as bubbling paint and burning debris fell from the roof of the stadium.
“My mother was in the main stand where fire broke out,” Mr Kelly said.
“As she tried to get out she fell down a narrow aisle, bouncing all over the place.
“David Hustler found her and lifted her over a wall, where she was passed to two police offices just as the roof collapsed.
“She was lucky to survive that day.”
Mrs Kelly, the eldest of five children, spent 11 weeks in hospital after the blaze, where she was visited by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Mr Kelly, who will be travelling to Wembley tomorrow, said: “If you look at my mother’s hand, you can see she had a finger amputated. She was covered in bandages and needed so many skin grafts.
“The bitumen from the stand had dripped behind her coat and you can still see the scarring on the left side of her body.
“She was the last to leave the unit. She is still in touch with the nurses who treated her.”
Mr Kelly said his mother, who has four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, was looking forward to tomorrow’s game and would wear her Bantams’ scarf with pride.
“She’s so excited. We had thought about getting her a ticket, but her health meant we wouldn’t be able to get her down.
“She must be one of Bradford City’s oldest fans.”