Manchester Arena bombing one year on: 22 lives never forgotten
On the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bomb, the Fylde coast stopped to remember the victims.
Twenty two people were killed and hundreds injured when a suicide bomber targeted an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.
Among those who lost their lives was South Shore Academy receptionist Jane Tweddle, 51.
As the nation fell silent yesterday at 2.30pm to remember the victims, a ceremony saw people gather outside the Blackpool Council offices in Bickerstaffe Square to pay their respects.
And further afield, some 800 people attended an hour-long service at Manchester Cathedral including families or friends of the victims and also survivors of the May 22 terror attack.
They were joined by front-line responders and volunteers who helped in the tragic aftermath of the end of last year’s Ariana Grande concert.
Among the dignitaries who were present were the Duke of Cambridge, Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council.
Photographs of those who died in the bombing were displayed on screens in the cathedral shortly before the minute’s silence.
Twenty-two lit candles on the altar represented each one of the victims, which were made using wax from the thousands of candles left in St Ann’s Square in their memory last May.
A larger single lit candle remembered bereaved families and friends, the hundreds who were physically or psychologically injured and their families and friends, those who helped on the night and those who have assisted or supported the community in their recovery.
Officiating the service, the Dean of Manchester, the Very Rev Rogers Govender, said: “In this service we come together as people of different faiths and none, as we remember with love before God those whose lives were lost, and those whose lives have been changed forever and have to live with the terrible memories of that day 12 months ago.
“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge between them is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
He added: “Everyone was loved so very dearly by people who are here today as well as by those who are not.
“They will live on through those who love them.”
The order of service listed the 22 names of those who lost their lives with the heading “In our hearts forever”.
Members of the public also watched the proceedings on screen at York Minster, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Glasgow Cathedral.
Salman Abedi, 22, detonated his suicide bomb device at the end of the concert with 353 people, including 175 children, around him in the foyer of the venue.
A total of 22 people were killed and more than 800 others were either physically or psychologically injured.
'We didn't want to go back today'
Two survivors of the arena attack chose to mark the one-year anniversary in Blackpool – ‘making happy memories’ – instead of returning to Manchester for the memorial service.
Ruth Murrel and her 13-year-old daughter Emily spent six weeks in the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after the attack – between them having 10 operations to remove shrapnel from their bodies.
During the bombing, a bolt travelled 15cm through Ruth’s leg while Emily suffered seven shrapnel wounds from flying debris.
A year on, the pair, from Lancashire, have received hours of therapy after being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and are still undergoing counselling.
They declined an invitation to the service at Manchester Cathedral yesterday – the thought of being in the city still filling them both with dread.
They instead opted to have a day trip to Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
“We wanted to turn what will be a really sad day into a happy day making happy memories,” said Ruth, who was waiting in the foyer of the Manchester Arena to pick up Emily when the bomb exploded.