A SURVIVOR of the Hillsborough disaster has finally managed to come to terms with the horror he witnessed – more than 30 years on.
Alan Griffiths from Alcester was 24 years-old when he travelled in April 1989 to watch the Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield with a friend where the pair were caught up in the fatal crush.
They were able the climb to safety over the fencing put up to stop the crowd spilling onto the pitch, but hundreds of fans were not so lucky.
The two young men then joined the rescue operation and helped carry fans to safety, but many of the people they carried from the scene were already dead.
The crush in the Leppings Lane End of Sheffield Wednesday’s ground left 96 people dead and more than 700 injured.
Company director Alan said: “After Hillsborough I stopped going to football matches and was always on edge in crowded and confined spaces.
“It was 30 years to the day before I finally accepted I needed help. On the 30th anniversary of the tragedy I decided to return to the ground.
“I was totally unprepared for how it would make me feel. I had an emotional breakdown – I just stood outside the ground in floods of tears.”
When he returned home to Alcester, 54-year-old Alan went to see his GP and was referred to Coventry and Warwickshire’s psychological therapy service.
The dad-of-two was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and says the counselling he received has changed his life.
He no longer suffers nightmares, panic attacks and can cope with crowds, and even attend football matches once again.
Alan added: “I knew in my heart I wasn’t coping but didn’t really understand how it had affected me. I was bottling it up, I just couldn’t talk about what happened and struggled in situations that brought back that awful day.
“It is still an awful memory but now I understand just how seriously it affected me and I feel able to move on – no more nightmares, no more sense of panic in busy rooms or crowds. It’s fantastic.”
And now he is urging others to seek help if they need it.
Alan told the Observer: “Now I can fully enjoy my passion for football once again.
“Like me, many people bottle things up, are worried about accepting they need help, or don’t know where to turn.
“People need to know how important it is to open up with the help of professionals. It has been life-changing for me. ”
Call 024 7667 1090 to find out more about receiving support through Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust.