Maxine Peake in The Real Anne: Unfinished Business
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Anne on ITV: The real Anne Williams tragically died three years before Hillsborough unlawful killing verdict

But she did live to see Liverpool fans vindicated and blame appropriately placed

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ITV viewers will surely be left emotional – and angry – watching deeply affecting drama Anne this week, but what happened to the real Anne Williams?

Four-parter Anne focuses on the mother-of-three, who lost her 15-year-old son Kevin in the Hillsborough disaster at Leppings Lane, Sheffield, in 1989.

At the end of episode one, devastated Anne and her family learn that Kevin’s death and those of all 95 victims (which later became 97) was ruled as accidental.

This is when Anne joined the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

Maxine Peake as Anne Williams in Anne
Anne Williams is portrayed by Maxine Peake in the ITV drama (Credit: ITV)

What did Anne Williams do after son Kevin’s death?

As the series continues, viewers will see Anne (played by Maxine Peake) become an activist and tirelessly campaign, initially, to overturn the coroner’s original verdict on Kevin, and five other victims.

ITV press notes on the series state that the real Anne “sought out new medical opinions, tracked down witnesses who had tried to revive Kevin on the pitch and lobbied ministers for new inquests”.

Read more: The full Hillsborough timeline – from tragedy to justice

Episode three is eight years on from the tragedy, and sees the new Labour government order a judicial scrutiny into Hillsborough.

When again denied new inquests, the families start a new group called the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.

Moving forward to the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster approaching, Anne visits Hillsborough for the first time and relives Kevin’s final moments.

In episode four, she urges MP Andy Burnham to fight for their cause and a new independent panel is created to look again at all the evidence.

Iron Lady tribute to Anne Williams
Liverpool fans paying tribute to Anne at a match last year (Credit: Shutterstock)

What did Anne say about her campaign?

Anne, who affectionately earned the nickname Iron Lady from Liverpool supporters, thanks to her refusal to ever give up, was determined to get the answers she and all the victims’ families needed and deserved.

She said: “I can see what they are trying to do, they are going to try and wear me down, they are going to try and wear me out, but I can tell you, I will wear them down before they wear me out.”

And indeed, in September 2012, the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel confirmed that the original inquest had been wrong on a number of key points, notably that all victims had not been dead at 3.15pm. It also stated that 41 of the victims might have survived if the emergency services had responded efficiently.

Home Secretary at the time, Theresa May, then announced a new police inquiry into the disaster.

Anne said: “This is what I fought for. I was never going to give up.”

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Where is Anne Williams now?

Sadly, Anne died of cancer in 2013, three years before the inquest delivered an unlawful killing ruling on the Hillsborough disaster victims.

Anne’s daughter, Sara, who was nine when Kevin lost his life, took on the campaigning.

In 2016, the Hillsborough Inquest concluded that what had by then become the 96 (later becoming 97) who died in the 1989 disaster were unlawfully killed.

Jurors agreed that fans had played no part in the deaths; they blamed police failures, stadium design faults, and a delayed response by the ambulance service.

Of the drama adaptation, Sara has said: “I thought very carefully before deciding to go ahead with the ITV drama, Anne.

“Mum’s story was such a powerful and inspiring one, and we all remember how important she felt it was to get the message out there and bang the drum for justice.

“I am excited, as well as a little bit scared, for viewers to see my mum’s story, but I just felt it was the right thing to do.

“Alongside some very talented people, we have given everything to ensure we produce a series that does justice to my mum, our Kev, the 97, and everyone involved with Hillsborough.”

On Thursday night, ITV documentary The Real Anne: Unfinished Business commemorates the campaigner’s life.

Anne continues on ITV1, on Monday at 9pm. 

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