England

Hillsborough stories: Henry Charles Rogers

  • 8 April 2014
  • From the section England

Chester schoolboy Henry Rogers travelled to Hillsborough with his older brother Adam and other friends, who all survived. The middle of three children, he was a bright student who was hoping to study economics at university when he died.

This is the full statement to the inquests from his mother, Veronica Rogers:

My name is Veronica Rogers, and on behalf of myself and my husband, Stephen, I would like to introduce you to our son Henry Charles Rogers.

Henry was born on 14 February, Valentine's Day, 1972, and he was 17 years old when he died at the Hillsborough Football Stadium.

Henry was our middle child of three. His brother, Adam, who was two years older, and his sister Alexandra, known as Alex, was nearly 10 years younger. Henry and Adam were very close as young children, but as they grew older, they developed their own interests, remaining close but not as inseparable as in their earlier years.

Both boys were adored by their little sister, Alex, and this was reciprocated. When Alex was born, they even brought their friends around just to watch her. Henry was eight and Adam was 10. As she got older, if Mum or Dad said no to her, she would immediately try her persuasions on Henry, who often obliged, much to the consternation of Mum and Dad.

Henry was competitive by nature. He passed on his competitive nature to his little sister. When she was 11 months old, he would time her each evening to see how quickly she could totter from one end of the lounge to the other.

She learned her ball skills by playing throw and catch with him from an early age, as well as by being goal post as she sat in her pushchair, Mum and Dad only finding out about this after the event.

As she grew, she could often be heard laughing with glee as Henry pushed her all around the outside of the house in a go-kart. Henry enjoyed this activity as much as she did, and it has left her with happy and enduring memories.

Henry was a sportsman. At over six-foot tall and with a slim build, he was goalie in the school team, as well as the local youth team, a very good swimmer and point guard in basketball and a keen tennis player. He often enjoyed a round of golf with his friend, Phil, who to this day still uses Henry's putter and a prayer whenever he plays.

He was fond of cooking, although we can't remember any of the dishes he produced. He was a cub and later a boy scout, playing bugle in the scout band. Practice sessions at home with Adam playing glockenspiel and Henry on bugle could be excruciating.

He enjoyed participating in social activities such as scout camping, and of course watching his football team, the Reds.

Everyone loved Henry: teachers, adults and contemporaries. It was almost impossible to be cross with him.

He was great at losing things. We have a note from him saying: 'I have lost my space maker. Please do not punish me too harshly'. A space maker is a type of dental equipment.

He endeared people. He was a natural person and a charmer, without doing anything. Secret admirers came to his funeral, leaving truly loving messages at the grave.

The only girl we were officially introduced to was Wendy, a Dutch girl and the daughter of a family that we met on holiday in the Dordogne. She came to stay with us later in the summer, and was equal to Henry in her chattering and her good humour.

Henry infected her with his enthusiasm for Ajax, the Dutch football team, and of course Liverpool FC, and she admired his red and white tribute bedroom.

Straightforward, easy-going and natural were three of Henry's main characteristics. He was very loyal to his family and his friends. An affable soul by nature, he would carry his skateboard around the village often in the company of Adam, and would babysit for various grateful families.

He coached the small girls at football on the village green, making sure that Alex was given full advantage of a brother at the helm. Both Henry and Adam would help out at the village primary school, whenever there were jobs to be done.

At Alex's birthday parties, they were always roped in as helpers and were welcomed by all.

'Good student'

Henry was a good student, however, despite our holidays in the Dordogne, his French was not as good as it could be, as he tended to take out the Financial Times when he got bored in French class. When he passed French, we bought a bunch of flowers for the teacher for her persistence.

He did well in his GCSEs in the summer of 1988, which led him on to the lower sixth form, where he was studying for three A levels in maths, chemistry and economics. He intended to study economics at university and had tentatively selected London School of Economics and Liverpool as his first choices.

An entrepreneur in the making, Henry and his friend, Phil, had started up a rudimentary metal business, and he sold wrought iron plant pot holders to anyone kind enough to give him their custom. Henry was the salesman and Phil the manufacturer.

Henry was active in the Business Club at school. Encouraged by his grandfather, he became very interested in and excited by all the company privatisations that occurred during the second half of the 1980s.

With each new share issue, he progressively used most of his modest savings to take an active part in what was seen as a popular social revolution at the time. He used to nip into the reading room at the public library on Saturday mornings to check his share prices.

At the time of Hillsborough, we were committed to taking up a two-year work assignment in Australia. To enable Henry to continue his A level studies, it had been arranged that he would stay with nearby family friends, the parents of Mark, his best friend since starting at the local primary school.

'Extended visit to Sydney'

An extended visit to Sydney for both boys was anticipated in the summer holidays. After Hillsborough, our assignment to Australia was delayed by some months, but we eventually left in October.

Henry's brother Adam had also elected to remain in the UK to continue his work at Lever Bros and to be with 15 his fiancé. Sadly, the trauma of surviving Hillsborough, the loss of his younger brother and his child-onset diabetes together resulted in his lonely death as we arrived in Sydney.

We returned to Chester only a few days after our departure to deal with the practicalities of another child's death and funeral.

Sometime later, back in Australia, we were able to fly Henry's friend Mark over for the promised visit, but the absence of both Henry and Adam was all too apparent, and has remained so ever since.

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