Manchester marks first anniversary of Arena suicide bombing

Theresa May and Prince William join survivors and families at Manchester Cathedral

Theresa May joined Prince William at a memorial service in Manchester Cathedral to remember the 22 victims of a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester a year ago, Britain's deadliest attack for 12 years. Video: Reuters


Survivors of the Manchester Arena suicide bombing and the families of those who died have attended a remembrance service at the city’s cathedral on the anniversary of the attack.

They were joined by Prince William and Theresa May at the service, which took place as a national minute’s silence was observed to remember the 22 victims of the atrocity.

Dr Rev David Walker, the bishop of Manchester, told the service that the city would never forget those who died on May 22nd last year. He also pledged lifelong support for the 800 people who were injured physically or psychologically in the attack.

“Part of the horror . . . is that [the Arena] appeared to have been deliberately chosen as a venue full of young people,” he said. “Today they are one year into living with those life-changing injuries, with many decades of continuing to do so lying ahead of them.

“A society has rituals to mark a death or console the bereaved, but we lack any any equivalent for those who have lost limbs, suffered sensory loss or will never recover their confidence again. Many of the hopes and aspirations they took with them into the arena that night have gone. Today we mark and acknowledge their suffering and pledge to play our part in their future wellbeing here on earth.”

Ariana Grande, who performed at Manchester Arena that night, sent a message to those hurt in the attack: “Thinking of you all today and every day. I love you with all of me and am sending you all of the light and warmth I have to offer on this challenging day,” she tweeted.

First responders

As well as the prime minister and the duke, who read from I Corinthians 13:4 – “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude” – the service was attended by first responders to the scene and civic leaders. Other national figures included the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Sir Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The service was relayed to a big screen outside in Cathedral Gardens, where several thousand people were gathered. Among them was Jean Osborne (69), who was clutching a laminated photograph of her daughter, Caroline Davis, and their friend Wendy Fawell. All three women had worked together at a school in Guiseley, doing dinners and the after school club.

Fawell died in the attack; Davis was seriously injured. They had gone to pick up their daughters from the concert and were waiting in the foyer when Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Mancunian of Libyan heritage, detonated a bomb in his rucksack.

“Wendy was the nicest person you could meet,” said Ms Osborne, who, like many of those present, was wearing a T-shirt bearing Manchester’s symbol, the worker bee. “She was my hairdresser as well as my best friend and she taught me so many recipes I’d never have even thought of trying. Just last night we had her sweet’n’sour chicken.”

They welcomed the bishop’s pledge to remember the injured, saying Davis had been forced to go back to work as a dinner lady in spite of persistent health issues. Shrapnel from the bomb sliced her heel, a blast burn destroyed part of her skin and she had to have one arm reconstructed.


Also in the crowd were many teenagers wearing Ariana Grande T-shirts they bought on the night of the attack. Lorraine Ness (19) and her cousin Leigh Tilley (10) had travelled from Fife in Scotland. “We wanted to pay our respects and get closure after what happened here that night,” said Lorraine, who has been receiving counselling for the psychological trauma she suffered.

Thousands of messages of support on cardboard tags have been attached by members of the public to 28 Japanese maple trees, which form the Trees of Hope trail from the square to Victoria railway and tram station.

More than 7,000 hand-stitched hearts have also been dotted around the city centre, with people encouraged to smile as they pass them for a social media campaign, #aheart4mcr. The minute’s silence was marked at government buildings, and at the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry in central London.

Inside the cathedral, 22 candles – made using wax from the thousands of candles left in St Ann’s Square a year ago – were lit.

Photographs of the 22 victims chosen by their families were shown on the screen: 28-year-old John Atkinson, a support worker for people with autism, was sticking his tongue out at the camera; Polish couple Angelika and Marcin Klis, 39 and 42, were photographed around the corner in Exchange Square, hours before they went to pick their daughters up from the concert. Inseparable teenage sweethearts Liam Curry, 19, and Chloe Rutherford, 17, were shown together by the Tyne Bridge near their native South Shields.

On Tuesday night 10,000 people are expected to gather in Albert Square for a mass singalong of songs by Ariana Grande, Oasis, Take That and Elbow. – Guardian