Northern soul will prevail

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Words cannot be sufficient for what has happened in Manchester.

It could, of course, have been anywhere at any time.

But it wasn’t.

It happened following a callous calculation to cause maximum damage and most devastating loss of life to vulnerable children and young people while cooped up and unable to escape.

It happened in a city which has built itself back up after the wreckage of a previous bombing just over 20 years ago.

A city that is proud.

It happened to promote hate.

And there’s the rub.

As the chaos of the initial bomb was shared chaotically across the world, before even confused and devastated parents found their young ones, before the true extent of tragedy revealed, hate had been replaced by love.

As much of Britain slept, unaware of the tragedy unfolding at the most innocent and mainstream of pop stars’ concerts, the innate love and kindness of the majority of humankind was pouring toward Manchester and the North West.

And the people were uniting.

Outside the Manchester Arena, still known locally and fondly as the MEN, homeless beggars held the heads of fatally wounded concert-goers as they took their last breath.

Strangers helped strangers, the injured, the panicked, and the desperate. The infamous Northern friendliness utilised to its nth degree.

Desperate pleas to find the missing were equalled by offers of help.

Taxi drivers offered free assistance, local residents offered sofas and spare rooms, off duty medical staff poured into work to help their hard-working colleagues.

As the city and surrounding communities awoke to one of the worst days, queues formed at blood banks, crowd funding sites were circulated to help the victims, vigils planned and politics put aside.

Social media was dominated by the tragedy, conversation dominated by the caring with those trying to capitalise quietened quickly.

Elections don’t matter in times like these – it’s all noise.

As names of those lost became public, the grief has become public one and a city, a nation, emotionally embraced those shocked, grieving and in agony.

Meanwhile, the headlines stretched across the world, ones most North West believed they would never again read in their lifetimes.

As US president Trump denounced the ‘losers’ responsible, the world became aware.

Manchester is a city world renowned, famous for its football teams, its musicians, its markets and media city hub. From watching Coronation Street.

In a city with history bound together by legacy of the cotton industry, any divisions of football, of culture, of religion, of rivalry melted away as a community has become sewn back together by grief and love.

The media worked together to ascertain the facts and cut through the speculation. Staff at the Yorkshire Post offered everyday rivals at the Manchester Evening news the symbol of a white and red rose entwined. The symbols of Yorkshire and the traditional old Lancashire.

The entire North West of England is quiet today as it remembers those who went for a much-anticipated night out and never came home.

City streets, railway stations, cafes, schools and workplaces are united in shock and arguments put aside.

Here in the Lancashire Post newsroom, we reel as yet another local child fatality is confirmed, our communities steeled for more pain beyond comprehension.

There’s a well-known saying in Manchester, an appropriated statement that is not about religion but sentiment and strength.

‘And on the sixth day, God created Manchester.’

As we hold out our hands to those, to which the unthinkable has happened, we know the people, Manchester and the North West, will prevail.