22 May 2019
May 22 will always be a date etched into the minds of the people of Manchester.
Two years on, it is no easier to comprehend the events of 22nd May 2017, when 22 people were killed and hundreds of lives were changed forever as a bomb was detonated at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.
For me, the resounding memory of that day and of the days that followed, was the extraordinary resilience of the city. The families whose lives were ripped apart showed strength, courage and dignity, and the rest of the city rallied around them.
That’s what we do in Manchester. And that’s what we continue to do.
I cannot even begin to imagine what the past two years have been like for those who were at the arena that night and their families. It’s unfathomable.
What I do know though, is that since that day so many people have been resolute in their belief that love beats hate, that we stand together.
Late last year, I met one of the young ladies who was there on the night. Freya Lewis was just three metres from the explosion. She was left with catastrophic injuries and her best friend, Nell Jones, was tragically killed.
Meeting Freya, with her mum and dad, and hearing her courage and resilience, I was lost for words. Freya’s resilience is astounding. Despite continued treatment and multiple surgeries, she has raised more than £60,000 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity and continues to inspire.
Freya’s not alone in turning her experience of that day into something positive. Now, a new law has been proposed; Martyn’s Law. Martyn Hett was one of the 22 to lose his life in the attack. The incredibly popular 29-year-old PR manager was due to embark on the trip of a lifetime in the days after the attack. His mother, Figen Murray, has launched a petition to make it law for large-scale public venues to conduct thorough security checks on the doors. The petition is quickly gaining traction. She has also done talks on kindness and forgiveness. It’s another extraordinary, remarkable example of someone looking to move forwards positively.
The whole city undoubtedly shares the grief that these families carry so heavily. I hope that they find some comfort in the response of the city and know just how many people are there to support them should they ever need it.
Today is a hard day for so many people in our city and beyond, a reminder of loss and pain. I know I will take the extra time today to check in with family and friends. I’m incredibly proud of our city and how in the face of evil, we all chose love.