Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford City fire: Valley Parade memorial held online

Bradford City stadium Image copyright Bradford City
Image caption The video included shots of the stadium and its tribute to the 56

An online memorial service has been held to remember the 56 football fans who died in the Bradford City fire.

The service, featuring readings and prayers, was moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bradford City were playing Lincoln City at Valley Parade when the fire killed 54 Bradford fans and two Lincoln supporters on 11 May 1985.

Tributes to those who died and were injured were paid on social media ahead of the service.

The memorial took the form of a series of videos from those who would normally have attended the event in the city's Centenary Square and included a minute's silence.

In her comments, the city's Lord Mayor described the event as one of the the most poignant in Bradford's calendar.

Doreen Lee said: "This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are very sadly unable to come together as we normally would.

"Although we might not be able to stand alongside each other as in years past we can still come together spiritually."

Image copyright Bradford City
Image caption Flowers were laid at the memorial in Centenary Square ahead of the online service

The Mayor of Lincoln, Sue Burke, also recorded a message saying she was offering "heartfelt best wishes" as the 35th anniversary of the Bradford fire was marked.

She said: "My thoughts and prayers are particularly with the families and friends of the Bradford victims. All the people of Lincoln are with you today."

The club's chaplain, Pastor Oliver Evans, said it was not only about remembering those who died but also the 265 people who were injured and the role the fire played in the city's history.

"It forms part of the narrative of who we are as a city in Bradford. So many people who helped that day and we are in kind of similar times, difficult situations, and we are seeing the very best of people, the very best of Bradford people."

The club had said it had wanted people to pay their respects "safely" online.

Image copyright Bradford City
Image caption Lord Mayor Doreen Lee said people could still come together spiritually to remember those killed and injured

Before the service, former Bradford City manager Chris Kamara tweeted his thoughts about today:

Many fans said they remembered the day of the fire vividly and have paid their respects, Intrepid Punter was one of them, tweeting: "Remembering those poor souls who died in the Bradford fire."

The BBC's Match of The Day also tweeted its respects saying: "Our thoughts are with you".

Lincoln City FC also tweeted about the tragedy.

The online service has been arranged by the club and Bradford Metropolitan Council.

Bradford City's director of communications Ryan Sparks said they deeply regretted their usual service could not go ahead due to the current restrictions.

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