The Queen is backing a campaign for spectators at the Grand National to wear red carnations in honour of the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster 26 years ago.
The three-day Aintree Festival started today in Liverpool and is expected to attract more than a hundred and fifty thousand visitors.
The carnation tribute to Hillsborough victims is the idea of 75-year-old Dave Hughes from Merseyside, who says he’s overwhelmed by the response.
Mr Hughes, who works as a lollipop man, has revealed that he received a letter from Her Majesty giving her support to his idea.
Speaking to the Daily Star, he said: “I’ve had a lovely reply from Her Majesty, which I couldn’t believe, I wrote to explain what we were doing.”
“I thought it would probably just be dismissed because she must get so many letters, but then an envelope dropped through the letterbox with the royal stamp on and it was her wishing us well.”
He added: “If we get the message out there this year then next year I think, like with the Poppy Appeal, it will become something people do automatically.”
Mr Hughes launched his plans less than a month ago in the hope that everyone heading to the world’s biggest horse race would wear a red buttonhole in memory of those who died in the tragedy.
The Hillsborough disaster occurred on 15th April 1989 at the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. 96 people died, and a further 766 injured after a crash occurred because too many spectators entered the stadium.
The Grand National is attended by just hundreds of thousands of people each year and is watched by more than 600 million people in 140 countries, making it one of the most watched sporting events worldwide.
Entered in this year’s race will be Zara Tindall’s horse, Monbeg Dude, on his second visit to Aintree after finishing 7th last year.
Photo credit: Charlie Proctor 2013 ©