Steven Mark Whittingham was born in the British Military Hospital in Berlin. He made his entry into this world as two way- family favorites was finishing its two hour run on the radio. It was Whitsuntide Sunday. It was a warm and sunny the day he was born, with blue sky and white fluffy clouds. The Ambulance ride over the cobble streets in the suburbs of Kladow and Spandou in Berlin certainly helped Steven make his entry into the world, as he was born just minutes after we arrived at the Hospital.
The first face he saw was his dad Carroll who was there assisting his appearance into the world. He weighed in at 7 lb 6 ozs His elder sister Heidi adored him, and when Steven was only 18 months old his younger sister Joanne was born. Six years later the baby of the family, Jason arrived to complete our family.
Steven was a very loving but shy baby who could not bear to be among strangers and only every wanted his family around him. I, as his mother would walk round the house with him clutching hold of my skirt at all times. I couldn’t go anywhere without him. He attended Woodhouse School in Brighouse, Delf Hill junior School in Bradford and later on went to Beverley Grammar School in Humberside.
He decided on a career in catering, and went on to join the Army where he knew he would get the best possible training. In his very first competition he won silver medal at Hotel Olympia for his salmon trout, we and his Regiment were so very proud of him! From the Army he went to work for The Hotel Majestic in Harrogate where he met his wife to be Helen who also worked at the same hotel. They were married June 8th 1984. Married life was fine for a time, but Helen found it difficult to settle down to the life of a married woman, she didn’t want the responsibility that married life brought, and so they separated, then finally divorced five years later. Steven was devastated, but Helen and Steven stayed very firm friends up until his death.
In 1991, just months before his death, after making many inquiries, Steven decided that he wanted to further his education in catering and enrol on a hotel management course at Huddersfield University. He was due to start this training in September 1992. Steven was a lovely young man who had recently met a young lady who, we felt he would settle down with. Steven, who had so much to look forward to, had made great plans, was unable to see those plans through.
The Thursday evening of January 30th 1992 was cold damp and foggy. At 7.20 pm Steven was on his way home after taking his newly purchased Mini Traveller for a top up of petrol ready for his journey to work in Huddersfield early next morning. He had called at the Yorkshire bank in Heckmondwike to draw £10 from the cash machine and then called at the Morrisons supermarket for the petrol. He had only been away from his home just a few minutes, in anticipation of spending a night in "front of the box" he had even left his television, lights and heating on. He had finished work at around 5.30, arrived home at about 6pm cooked his tea, and no doubt decided to get his petrol that night rather than risk not finding a petrol station open the following morning. He had not even had time to open his daily newspaper, The Sun, which still lay folded on his chair. It carried the headline "Mike Tyson jailed for rape".
After leaving the petrol station he had less than half a mile to travel to his home. What happened in the following few minutes was to devastate hundreds of peoples lives. His Mum ,Dad,two sisters,one brother,relative's, friends, work mates, neighbours and people that he did not even know have all been affected in some way, all because of 2 tearaways of the local community thought it was okay to take someone else's property without permission. They were, somewhat euphemistically, referred to as joyriders, they were also drunk. One was 18 years old, the other just 13. The 2 well known local car thieves had stolen a car just a couple of minutes earlier from a local mill car park where the twilight shift was in progress. The car had been securely locked with the keys as well as having an anti car theft device on the steering wheel, by the lady that owned it. A gang of about 6 youths had stood for several minutes arguing about which of them should steal the car. Two of them eventually got in the car after disabling the security systems.
The car they had stolen was soon traveling in excess of 80 mph in a 30 m.p.h area. Neither youth gave a single thought to other road users. The 18 year old, who was driving almost immediately lost control, careering down the wrong side of the road at 80 mph. The car narrowly missed two young boys waiting at bus stop. It then hit Steven's car head on at a combined speed of 110 m.p.h. Steven's car was sent spinning back down the way he had come for a distance of at least 159 ft. The stolen car ended up crashing into a children's playground before coming to a stop.The stolen car was on fire and the car thieves were unable to get out, so passersby ran to their aid and the owner of the local shop ran out with his shop fire extinguisher to put out the flames.
The thieves after being rescued ran away leaving Steven, my dear son, to die in his mangled car. Well meaning people tell me that he died immediately, but how do they know? Steven's death is something myself, my husband the rest of my family and many friend's are going to have to live with for the rest of our lives. Just because two boys, who had shown no respect for themselves, their families or for authority decided that it was okay to steal someone else's property. The younger boy has never faced any charges following the death of my son, the older boy received three years youth custody, he actually served 13 months.! Life is so very cheap. Both boys had been in court many times before their ultimate crime, killing Steven. Stealing cars, stealing property from cars and burglary offences, both were classed as habitual offenders. Both had received police caution's, suspended sentences, probation and been placed under curfew, all of which was to no avail. Stevens family and friends, even after eight years, continue to serve a life sentence of grieving for a lovely man who always saw the very best in every one.