22nd May 2017 – 22 innocent lives lost.
Today marks two years since the Manchester Arena attack.
Like many other people, I remember waking up on the morning of Tuesday 23rd May, completely unaware of the horror that had unfolded overnight after a bomb was detonated in the arena foyer at the end of a Ariana Grande concert.
My fiancé just showed me his phone and said “have you seen this?” – the image of 14-year-old Eve Senior being helped away from the venue, with her jeans cut away by paramedics following no less than 14 shrapnel wounds, will stay with me forever.
My first question, after trying to digest the horror that was now in front of my eyes, was “who was playing at the arena?”
Once he confirmed it was Ariana Grande, the pop idol of many youngsters, my heart broke. This was an attack on the most innocent of innocent – young children and their families.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. How dare someone attack our city like this? Children and teenagers who just wanted to see their idol perform were unwittingly thrust into a war zone as they left the building, buzzing with excitement.
The most evil of evil.
That Tuesday was a complete blur of constantly checking the news and, thanks to the non-stop world of social media, receiving updates on the situation and the increasing death toll.
The day was concluded in the only way Manchester could – the vigil at the Town Hall was attended by hundreds of people who came together in an Albert Square rendition of the Oasis hit, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, while poet Tony Walsh delivered his inspirational ode to the city, ‘This Is The Place’:
“And these hard times again, in these streets of our city, but we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity.” – Tony Walsh
Two years on
As we come to the second anniversary of the Manchester attack, the focus turns to the heroes and helpers that came out of the tragedy.
I’m reminded of Fred Rogers quote, which I shared on my own social media platforms in the aftermath of the 2015 Paris attacks:
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Sam Yarwood from the Manchester Evening News has today compiled just some of the stories of heroism and helping that have come to Manchester as a result of the arena attack.
Most notable to me after attending a Ricky Gervais stand-up gig at the Apollo last night is Martyn’s Law.
The mother of Coronation Street mega-fan Martyn Hett has launched a campaign to create a lasting legacy in her son’s name, in a bid to prevent others going through the heartache and loss that her family has suffered.
Figen Murray is calling on people to sign her petition to the government which calls for obligatory metal detectors and mandatory bag searches at all major public venues.
This happened to me at the Apollo last night and I was grateful. It takes seconds and sets people’s minds at ease because, unfortunately, we’re now living in a society where public events are a target.
Marking the date
At 10.31pm tonight, bells will ring out across Manchester city centre for one minute.
This is a lower-key way of marking the date than the first anniversary, but this means tributes will be more intimate, more muted.
The ripple effect of the attack means we will all remember the 22 innocent lives lost in our way.
The various tales of heroism and helpers are a comfort to me, and I know they will be woven into the fabric of Manchester in the same way that we will never forget the 22 people who went to a pop concert and never came home.
Digital Media Account Manager
(Bees image courtesy of Manchester Evening News)