One year on: Remembering the Manchester Arena terror attack victims
Today the Fylde coast will come together to mark one year since the Manchester Arena bombing that claimed more than 20 lives.
Jane Tweddle, receptionist at South Shore Academy, was among those killed in the blast on May 22, 2017.
The school is not opening today as a mark of respect to her and others who were caught up in the chaos when a suicide bomber killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert.
And a minute’s silence will be held outside the Blackpool Council offices in Bickerstaffe Square to remember the 22 people who died in the attack.
Jane, 51, was one of those people killed when Islamist terrorist Salman Abedi detonated a bomb packed with nuts and bolts. More than 500 others were injured.
Neil Reynolds, headteacher at South Shore Academy, described her as a ‘very dear colleague and friend’.
A number of children from across the Fylde coast were also at the concert in Manchester and schools provided support and counselling in the days that followed the bombing.
A charity dedicated to supporting people affected by trauma got its first call just nine hours after Abedi detonated his suicide bomb at the Manchester Arena.
Since then and over the year since the attack, Victim Support has continued to provide help to people caught up in the explosion a year ago today.
“We got our first call before 8am in the morning after the attack,” said Ellen Miller, Victim Support’s service director for Northern England.
“Luckily we had a helpline up and running 24-hours a day after the Westminster attack so that was available.
“We were taking calls all the way through the night.”
More than half of those who reached out to Victim Support in the aftermath were people who were at the concert.
More than a third of those were seeking help for children, some as young as six, who were traumatised by what they had witnessed.
Ellen said: “We were there from the start to support people and because this is something that affected whole family groups.
“It’s really hard for them to talk to each other because they don’t want to make it worse and set each other off.
“We had parents wondering what say to their children because it is so out of the normal range of experiences.
“We supported people who were scared, injured, friends of the bereaved, teachers looking for resources, people who already had mental health issues and people who had troubles with their employers over compassionate leave – not all employers were as sympathetic as we would have liked.”
In the year following the attack, as people affected struggled with the physical and psychological impact, Victim Support saw peaks from people needing help.
Two weeks after the attack, there was a big spike in people reaching out for support, followed by more in the summer, in the build-up to Bonfire Night and at Christmas time.
“During the long summer months when calls restarted that was quite hard in two ways,” said Ellen.
“Then when the school year restarted schools were looking for people to move on and there were changes in between primary and secondary and classrooms which could be quite traumatic for young people.
“Bonfire night was hard for people because they were really uneasy about the bangs and the noises.
“The things that happened are seared into your unconscious memory.
“Christmas was also really hard. There were feelings of guilt which were set off at Christmas.”
In the build-up to the anniversary, Ellen has been worried about how it will be affecting people.
“You couldn’t escape it if you tried, there is so much happening.”
- Victim Support’s supportline number is 08 08 16 89 111. Alternatively, visit www.victimsupport.org.uk
‘It will not divide us – we will carry on’
A mother and son who escaped the Manchester bomb physically unscathed but emotionally traumatised will perform in a choir on the anniversary of the attack today.
For Cath Hill and her son Jake singing as part of the Manchester Survivors Choir is about being with other people who understand what they went through.
But it was not only the terror attack in Manchester in May that Cath, 43, from Lancashire, and Jake, 11, lived through last year.
They were also in Spain in August when terrorists went on a car rampage in the small fishing village of Cambrils following an earlier attack in Barcelona.
The two of them were profoundly emotionally affected by their experiences.
Cath, from Lancaster, who set up the Manchester Survivors Choir in January, said: “We realise that a lot of people like to sing. It’s for people who were involved in the attack.
“We’ve been running it since January and we have 40 members. We’re performing at Manchester Voices and performing at the children’s hospital in Manchester.
“There’s something wonderful about being with people who completely get what you’ve been through. It’s about having a positive activity to focus on.
“It’s not going to divide us, we are going to carry on.”
‘It is still so heavy on my heart every single day’
Ariana Grande says she still thinks of the Manchester Arena bombing every day.
In a candid interview with Time magazine, the American singer said she wishes there was more she could ‘fix’ and admitted thoughts of the atrocity still lie ‘heavy on her heart’.
Grande, 24, spoke about her response to the attack one year on and its impact on her music.
“The last thing I would ever want is for my fans to see something like that happen and think it won,” she said.
“Music is supposed to be the safest thing in the world. I think that’s why it’s still so heavy on my heart every single day.
“I wish there was more that I could fix. You think with time it’ll become easier to talk about. Or you’ll make peace with it.
But every day I wait for that peace to come and it’s still very painful.”
Grande - whose first new music following the attack, No Tears Left To Cry, alluded to the atrocity - described the bomb as the ‘absolute worst of humanity’.