A Shipley man who was mascot on the fateful day of the Bradford City fire disaster in 1985 will be rememembered on Sunday after he lost his battle with cancer.
Andrew West, who was ten at the time of the disaster, acted as the Bantams’ mascot in the match at Valley Parade against Lincoln City on May 11, 1985.
He will be one of those remembered during Sunday’s commemoration service to mark the 29th anniversary of the disaster, in which 56 people lost their lives, in Centenary Square.
Mr West died on April 24, aged 38, after suffering from throat cancer for the last 18 months.
His cousin, Mark Neale, told the Telegraph & Argus how Mr West had reprised his mascot role at one of the most memorable events set up to raise money for the Bradford Disaster Appeal Fund, a re-creation of the 1966 World Cup Final featuring the original England and West Germany teams at Elland Road, Leeds, in July, 1985.
He again acted as club mascot when Bradford City beat an England XI to officially re-open Valley Parade on December 14, 1986.
“Bradford City was a big part of his life, and the last time I saw him was on the Kop,” said Mr Neale. “Andrew was a lovely lad, and his family and his sport meant everything to him. He called his family his team, and anyone who knew him knew he was a real team-player.
“I can honestly say I never heard him say a bad word about anybody.”
A spokesman for Bradford City FC said: “Andrew will always be linked with the football club given his role as club mascot on the day of the Valley Parade fire disaster. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Andrew’s family and friends during this extremely difficult period.”
Mr West remained closely linked with the club in the years following the disaster, and in July 2007, stepped in for the club’s then manager, Stuart McCall, when Telegraph & Argus readers selected their three all-time greatest Bradford City players to lend their name to a trio of specially-brewed real ales by Saltaire Brewery, named ‘Legends of the Valley.’ He attended a tasting at The Shipley Club alongside former striker John Hendrie and Bantams record appearance holder Ces Podd, to pull the first pint of ‘McCall’s Magnificent Bitter’.
This year’s remembrance event, which begins at 11am, will involve a 30-minute service by the chaplain to Bradford City, the Rev Andy Grieff, at the memorial sculpture.
A minute’s silence will be held before the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Khadim Hussain, lays a wreath on behalf of the city and district, with floral tributes also set to be given by the Mayor of Lincoln, representatives of Bradford City FC, bereaved family members, officers from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, and players and directors from Bradford Bulls.