Manchester Arena

12 Days of Manchester: Eight was the age of the youngest victim of the Arena attack

  • One of the most tragic events of recent times
  • Part of a series on Manchester's culture and history

It’s a bit of a depressing way to start 2019 but it could not really go without mentioning.

On May 22nd, 2017 as fans were leaving the Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert, a suicide bomber detonated a homemade explosive in the foyer, killing 22 people and seriously injuring another 250.

The most harrowing thing about the incident was that a lot of the victims were children, whether they were directly hurt or lost a parent.

8-year-old Saffie Rose was the youngest person to be killed that night.

Arena attack floral tribute
Floral tributes to victims of the Arena attack. Credit: Tomasz Kozlowski

I remember finding out about the event through Facebook. I’d heard vaguely from my housemate at the time that something was stopping people from going through the city centre and later saw a post from a friend on social media saying they had heard an explosion at the Arena and asking if anyone knew what had happened.

The news stayed blank for a little while as information seeped through on Twitter. There was a lot of confusion and some fake news which muddied the overall perspective of the event for the first few hours.

By the time I went to bed, the MEN and BBC had started reporting on the tragedy and it was becoming clear that it had been a terrorsist attack.

I had maintained a distance from 9/11, the 7/7 bombings and the few attacks in France beforehand as they felt like far-away places and in a way not really real. Knowing that such an attack had happened in my home city, to my community had a very sobering effect.

It doesn’t instill me with fear, but with a grim sense of the fleeting nature of life.

I cannot imagine how it felt and still feels to the families directly affected by the bombing.

It’s New Year’s Day and there are plenty of documentaries talking about the bombing, so I won’t go into any great detail, but when discussing the cultural history of Manchester, I don’t feel I can go without mentioning the darkest day in our recent history.

So spare a thought for the 22 who lost their lives that night and the countless more injured or traumatised by it and remember that we are stronger united than we are divided.