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BIRMINGHAM ROCKS 2021!

About Birmingham Rocks

Birmingham Rocks will be a three-day event over the August Bank Holiday weekend in 2021.  We will have over 50 bands in these three days in multiple venues.  


Tickets will be released end of January 2021.  Our social media is fully up and running and you will find all those details by clicking the button link below.  All our bands/sound engineers in fact everyone is donating their time FREE OF CHARGE, in order to raise awareness and as much money as possible for this amazing cause. 


You will find LOTS more details on the site (click the button) but in the meantime, we have attached just ONE of the family's stories, it truly is a heartbreaking read.


What is Justice for the 21? 

This cause is all for the 21 families of the 21 victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings on the 21 November 1974. 


No one has yet been brought to justice for the most horrendous terrorism in this country.  Despite being refunded for Legal Aid various times, and having to fund their fight for justice, they are still going and will continue to do so until justice is finally served. 

  

VISIT BIRMINGHAM ROCKS WEBSITE FOR LOTS MORE INFO

A Families Story - Julie Hambleton 

This has been a interview that was recorded on the 12th November 2018 by Lindy McDowell from the Belfast Telegraph

Later this month, on November 21, a new memorial is to be unveiled in Birmingham on the 44th anniversary of one of the greatest atrocities of the Troubles.


Paid for by the Irish community in the city, it will stand close to the area where in the early evening on that date in 1974, massive IRA bombs in two pubs - the Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush - exploded without warning, killing 21 people and injuring more than 180 others. It was the biggest mass murder in England in the 20th century.


And it was followed by one of the century's greatest miscarriages of justice. Six men, known as the Birmingham Six, were tried and convicted of the crime in 1975. They did not walk free until 1991.

For years, Julie Hambleton (55), sister of murdered 18-year-old Maxine Hambleton, has fought for answers to the question - who did bomb Birmingham?


Indefatigable, brave and determined, Julie and her brother Brian founded and spearhead the group Justice For The 21.


Here, Julie, a university lecturer, tells why she believes the authorities do not want the truth to come out.


She describes the obstacles they have faced in the complex legal battle that has been central to their search for justice (including being denied legal aid).


And, in heart-rending and deeply personal words, she describes how the death of her beloved big sister has impacted upon and shaped her own life.


"I chose not to have children because of Maxine. The thought of losing a child... I'm not strong enough for that."


Q. Apart from Maxine, how many other brothers and sisters do you have?


A. There were six of us in our family, three boys and three girls. I'm the youngest. There's Brian, who's the oldest, then there was Maxine, then Paul, Gary and Jane and then me.


My mum and dad were divorced. When Maxine was killed they'd been divorced for about five or six years. My sister Jane and I lived with our mum, Margaret. Gary lived with the old man and his missus and our half brother.


And Maxine, Brian and Paul had just moved into a house together that the old man had bought. Maxine had not long come back from France, grape-picking in the Champagne vineyards. She'd wanted to improve her French for her A-levels.


They'd moved into this house, so she said to Brian and Paul: "Are you okay if I have a housewarming party and invite people around on Friday?" Which was November 22. I was 11 at the time and Jane was 13.


We were invited because mum trusted her. Maxine was a chip off the old block from mum. So mum had agreed that we could go because she knew that we'd be looked after. Maxine had gone into town that night to meet her friends.


She was very creative. She made all her own clothes. And she'd designed her own invitation cards for the housewarming party. So she'd gone to meet her friends to hand out the party invites, which had the details of the address of the house, what bus service to catch and so on.


She was literally just going in to hand these out when she was killed, with her friend Jane Davis. Our eldest brother Brian had said to her that night: "If you iron my shirt, I'll give you a lift into town."


He would have given her a lift anyway. But she ironed his shirt. And so - and he never told us this for years - he dropped her into town and for all these years he carried guilt because he believed he'd taken Maxine to her death.


Q. You were only 11 at the time. Do you remember how you found out Maxine had been killed?


A. Oh God, yeah. It's like it was yesterday. When the bomb went off there was a newsflash. I was watching television with my mum and my stepfather.


I remember when the newsflash came on, my mum saying: "The b******s." I knew that Maxine had gone into town, but I didn't give it a thought. At least I don't recall giving it a thought. The party was going to be the next day and I was excited about that. On Friday, Jane and I went to school and we were coming home from school, at the top of the road where we lived, at the top of the hill, and I remember our mum coming round the corner with our stepfather in the car.


And I was thinking 'That was unusual'. I'll always remember that as they came round the corner mum waved at us and smiled. And that was unusual too. Usually, she'd being pulling faces... you know... being mum. And I remember that. Because it was not mum. I and Jane get into the house and mum had gone upstairs.


Our stepfather called us into the living room and started drawing the curtains. And again that was odd because even though it was November it was still light when we got home from school.

I remember thinking 'Why is he closing the curtains?' That moment has always stuck with me. 'Why is he closing the curtains?' He sat us down and he said: "You know that Maxine went into town last night." And we said: "Yes. Is she all right? Is she hurt? Is she all right?" He said: "She's not hurt. She's killed."

And it's almost impossible to try and explain what that does to your head and to your body. I was 11. It's just impossible to explain. I was looking at some photographs the other day of Maxine when she was about eight and it's so hard to look at that. I mean, I have pictures of her all over the house, but it's only within the past 18 years that I've been able to do that. I couldn't have been able to do that before.


But I can't really look at her, I mean really sit there and look at her and think about it for too long, or I'd feel like my head was going to explode with all that sadness and grief and anger and the... just the incomprehension of her death.


Q. It would have been hard enough to lose your sister at that age. But the cruel way she was murdered, the horror of that, must have made it so much worse.


A. There are so many things that make it all the worse. So many levels. There are so many factions to our anger and our grief and the harrowing manifestation of it all. Firstly the gutless b*****ds - and you can quote me on that - the gutless b*****ds who planned it, built the bombs, transported the bombs and then planted the bombs and then ran away like the spineless, lily-livered cowards that they are.


Because they haven't got the backbone or the courage of their convictions to stand their ground and not wear a mask and put their hands up and say: "I did it. And this is why I did it." But not one of them has had the courage of their convictions to do that. So, what does that say about them?


And on the back of that, the government failed to do anything. The Birmingham Six didn't do it. They (the authorities) knew they didn't do it. But they allowed the real murderers to continue to have their liberty and possibly to kill again and possibly again and again. And that is the double whammy that we're dealing with - that our own government have done nothing and continue to do nothing to look for those responsible for what was England's biggest mass murder of the 20th century.


Q. How did your family feel when the Birmingham Six were convicted? You must have thought at that point they'd got the right men.


A. I can't answer that question. I was 11. The police had come to see my mum and we were told it was them, without any shadow of a doubt. And I would imagine the other families were told the same.

The government did such a good job smearing them with the propaganda, which is exactly what it was, that it's still in lots of people's minds even today - they believe that the Six did it. Paddy Hill has become one of our staunchest supporters. Meeting Paddy Hill for the first time, that was the hardest thing I've ever done.

Have you seen the documentary Who murdered Maxine? It's on YouTube. In that documentary, you see us, Brian and I, meeting Paddy Hill for the first time. What you don't see is that as we were walking in - it's usually Brian who falls apart - but he managed to keep it together and I was the one who fell apart.


I was inconsolable. Because I thought I was betraying Maxine and betraying my mother. But Paddy is now one of the staunchest supporters of Justice For The 21.


Q. Who set up the group?


A. Brian and I set it up together. Another of our supporters came up with the name. With the families of the other victims, we've become a community - one big extended family.

We are a group of people who love each other and belong to each other. But we are a group of people who would otherwise choose not to be in the group that we are, for obvious reasons.


Q. Do you feel the victims have been forgotten?


A. Yes, they have been forgotten. Where we're concerned, and I said this when I was giving evidence to the NI Affairs Select Committee to do with the On The Runs, and I repeat it all the time, the British authorities wish that they could bury us next to our dead.


Because we dare raise our heads above the parapet and demand that they fulfil the role that they are employed and paid to do, which is to represent and serve and protect us - those who pay their salaries.


Q. Has there been anybody in public life who's come forward to try to help you?


A. The one who's come closest is Jess Phillips, the MP for Yardley in Birmingham. She has been very pro-active, God bless her.


Q. Full inquests into the deaths of the 21 victims of the Birmingham bombings are to be held in the spring of next year. Central to that, you believe, should be the issue of identifying those responsible for the atrocity. So you have concerns, don't you, that a recent Court of Appeal ruling (that suspects not be named) limits the scope of the inquests? And you are also angry about being denied legal aid...


A. We had to go out on to the streets, to prostitute ourselves, to beg, in order to raise the money to bring a judicial review against the coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC in January (over his decision not to name suspects). As a result of that action, the High Court then ordered Sir Peter to reconsider. But the recent Court of Appeal ruling upheld his initial decision.


He had decided to exclude the murderers and we couldn't in conscience allow him to do that, which is why we sought the judicial review.


We have been denied legal aid six times. When we applied for legal aid to bring the judicial review, they refused it on the basis that since our crowd-funding was going so well, we should continue to go down that path. I've got that in writing. So they're looking at us going out and prostituting ourselves, begging. And in England and Wales, you've got to remember, begging is illegal.



The way I see it is that they want us to break the law to enable us to fight the law. And the second reason they denied us legal aid - and remember that the legal aid department is supposed to be independent of government and impartial - is because they said: "We see no merit in your case to bring a judicial review." To me, that means that that makes them judge and jury.


We raised the money with the fantastic support of the football fraternity. And guess what? We won. We won the judicial review. But if we had listened to the legal aid department and had not followed through, that would have meant yet another miscarriage of justice.


How many miscarriages of justice must the families be made to suffer before they get true accountability?


In all the earlier hearings, whenever the Home Office and MI5 and MI6 showed up, they kept saying we've got no documentation on the Birmingham pub bombings. Nothing at all.


On the biggest mass murder in England in the 20th century. And they've, got no paperwork whatsoever? Paddy Hill has told me that he knows and has seen that there's a room, floor to ceiling jam-packed with boxes of paperwork to do with the Birmingham pub bombings.


Q. So you believe that the authorities have something to hide?


A. Yes. They're protecting their own agents. This is what Brian and I have always thought. We believe they knew the bombings were going to happen because, as is now known, the IRA was 80% infiltrated.


So it means they either had someone infiltrated in the Birmingham gang or they had an informer who knew that it was going to happen. And they allowed it to happen. They just don't want that to come out. Look at Stakeknife. It appears to us that successive British governments have been more than happy and accepting of allowing their own citizens to be murdered as a way of undermining the IRA's campaign.


Q. Do you feel that the IRA top brass who gave the orders bear as much responsibility as the men who actually carried out the bombings?


A. Well, it would be equal, wouldn't it? The men who gave the orders are quite possibly even more gutless than those who did it, because they sat back and let somebody else do the dirty work that they chose not to do. And they don't want to take responsibility for it either.


They're all gutless. From the top to the bottom. Every single one of them. They are gutless cowards. They are oxygen thieves. They do not deserve the right to have a life.


And the fact that they all had full lives, they had families and they are quite possibly still alive, is just an insult to all victims of terrorism. They have created not just the grief and loss of the families left behind, but for the survivors, the psychological issues and the distortion and destruction of family life.


When you murder one person, you destroy the whole nucleus of the family. It is not just one life that is shattered and gone. It is everybody's life that is shattered forever.


Q. Can you sum that up, the toll that Maxine's murder has taken on your own life?


A. (There is a long pause.) Oh, God. That's such a laden question. Well, first, I chose not to have children because of Maxine.

The thought of losing a child... I'm not strong enough for that. How our mother ever coped... mum identified Maxine after the bombing. She identified her. She only told us that a few years ago. She protected us from knowing that. But she identified her.

And she couldn't identify her by her face, because the bomb blast, the phosphorus, had marked her hair into her face.

So I decided I could never have children, because of the thought of losing a child, or of anything happening to a child of mine... I wouldn't have been able to cope.


And as I've got older, I've realised that I've never really had very many friends. And maybe that's because I'm not a very nice person. Nobody really knows who you are. People themselves don't really know who they are.


I try and be a good person. But, you know, if somebody says I need to calm down, I know that I've got a very short fuse sometimes. I don't bear a grudge, though. Except for murderers. I've not had very many friends, but I've thought that is my own fault because I don't want to get close to people. Because when you get close to people, you get attached. And when you get attached you have feelings and when you lose them... I don't want to feel that sense of loss.


I've got a friend who's got lots of animals and she says to me: "You know, you should get cats and dogs, they're just so loving." But I can't have a dog. They die. And I don't want to have to grieve for something that I know is going to die. People find that hard to grasp. But this is the way I am.


I also think it has to do with the fact that when I was 16 I was run over in an accident. I nearly died. I had a fractured skull. I was unconscious for nine days. And one of the side-effects of that is having a short temper.


I don't know if that is mixed up with the grief and the loss and all that, because grief and trauma hit people in different ways. When I was younger I used to drink a lot. I was never an alcoholic, but I used to drink. I don't drink now.


But I remember going around the nightclub that I'd be at and I'd be crying on people's shoulders. Sobbing about Maxine. I was only 18. I don't really have any memories of childhood after the bomb. No memories up until I was about 17.


But I do remember going round the nightclub crying. And I think to myself now, how embarrassing. Not only for me but for them. If I met those people now, I'd apologise profusely to them. They didn't want to share my grief.


But I was young and when Maxine was killed there was nothing like counselling or anything like that. She was murdered on Thursday and we went back to school on Monday.


Q. Are you optimistic that someday you will get justice - some form of justice - for Maxine?


A. Oh, yes. Because the more they try and block us, the more it stirs the fire in our bellies.


Nothing, nothing, but nothing, will stop us from getting to the truth. Nothing. Other than killing us. And I wouldn't put it past them.


And I'm being serious there. Brian and I have always said it's not the IRA we're worried about, it's our own establishment, because they can, and do, bury their own.


Q. A new memorial to the victims of the bombings is being unveiled this month at New Street Station in Birmingham, paid for with money raised by the Irish community in the city.


A. Yes. The project has been overseen by the Birmingham Irish Association. When Brian and I started our campaign, nearly a decade ago, we always said that we wanted to try and rebuild the fracture between the community in Birmingham and the Irish community.


After the bombings, if you were Irish in Birmingham, people wanted to hang you. Quite literally. Mum always told us you can't hate a whole nation on the back of a gang of cowards who are in essence just psychopaths.


I've just come back from a conference in Belfast organised by the victims' campaigner Raymond McCord and for all the trauma that people there have suffered, they're just so hospitable, so lovely.

I've been invited to attend conferences with the Bloody Sunday families. And the Ballymurphy families. It's really lovely to have met them. We're all fighting for exactly the same thing and we're all being blocked by the same institutions and establishment for decades.


So, that is the question we need to be answered - what is it that they're so afraid of?


The Justice For The 21 website address is www.justice4the21.co.uk

The innocent victims of Birmingham tragedy


Over 180 people were injured when the Birmingham bombs exploded - many lost limbs and had life-changing injuries. Not all were in the two pubs; some were walking nearby. 


Apart from Maxine Hambleton, who was 18, the other victims were:

Michael William Beasley (30).

Lynn Jane Bennett (18).

Stanley James Bodman (47).

James Frederick Caddick (40).

Thomas Frederick Chaytor (28).

Jimmy Craig (34).

Paul Anthony Davies (17).

Jane Elizabeth Davis (17).

Charles Harper Grey (44).

Ann Hayes (19).

John 'Cliff' Jones (51).

Neil Robert Marsh (16).

Marilyn Paula Nash (22).

Pamela Joan Palmer (19).

Desmond William Reilly (20).

Eugene Thomas Reilly (23).

Maureen Anne Roberts (20).

John Rowlands (46).

Trevor George Thrupp (33).

Stephen John Whalley (21).


Belfast Telegraph