Manchester terror attack victims ‘in our hearts forever'
Police stations across the UK staged their own minute silences as the nation watched in contemplation while Manchester stopped to reflect on the first anniversary of the Arena terror bombing that claimed 22 lives including off-duty Cheshire officer Elaine McIver.
More than 800 people attended the hour-long service at Manchester Cathedral including families and friends of the victims as well as survivors of the May 22 atrocity last year.
The Duke of Cambridge, Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese joined emergency services personnel who helped the victims of the attack in a service of remembrance on Tuesday (May 22) at 2pm.
Thousands more watched the service on a big screen in the nearby Cathedral Gardens, and further afield at York Minster, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Glasgow Cathedral.
During the service, the nation observed a moment of quiet repose at 2.30pm which was marked at all UK government buildings. As applause marked the end of the silence, a single bee balloon was released into the Manchester sky.
Photographs of those who died in the bombing were displayed on screens in the cathedral shortly before the 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.
The service-goers were told by the Dean of Manchester, the Very Rev Rogers Govender, of those whose lives were lost, and others that had been changed forever, adding: “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: “Those lost and their loved ones will forever be in the hearts of the people of Manchester.”
Prince William gave a bible reading, The Gift Of Love, and other readings were made by George Herbert, a student at Chetham’s School of Music, Remsha Asif, a student at Whalley Range High School for Girls, Michelle Milner, deputy director of nursing at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, along with members of the Hindi, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities. The Halle Youth Choir performed Over the Rainbow.
The final blessing was given by the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Dr John Sentamu, before the service was drawn to a close by the national anthem.
Under the heading “In our hearts forever”, the order of service listed the 22 names of those who lost their lives – including 43-year-old Detective Constable McIver who was waiting in the arena foyer with her partner Paul Price to collect Paul’s 13-year-old daughter and her friend from the Ariana Grande concert when she was killed by the blast.
A spokesperson for Cheshire Constabulary told Police Professional that the force had “fully observed” the minute’s silence in memory of the 22 dead on Tuesday but the family of policing’s off-duty victim did not attend the Manchester service and would not be making a statement on the first anniversary.
Later in the day more than 3,000 singers from local choirs joined forces to share the spirit of resilience in the face of adversity at the Manchester Together – With One Voice event in the city’s Albert Square.
And at 10.31pm – the exact time the device was detonated by suicide bomber Salman Abedi surrounded by 353 people, including 175 children, in the foyer of the venue at the end of the concert – the bells rang out from the city’s Town Hall, St Ann’s Church and St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.
Ahead of attending the afternoon service, the Prime Minister spoke of the “act of sickening cowardice” that targeted the young and innocent enjoying a carefree night out, designed to strike at the heart of UK values “with the aim of breaking our resolve and dividing us”.
She posted on Facebook: “Such appalling acts of wickedness will do nothing but strengthen our resolve to defeat such twisted ideologies and beliefs.
“The resilience and determination shown by this city in the 12 months since is testament to that.”
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said her thoughts were with the survivors and bereaved families while Mr Burnham said the city was ready to re-commit to supporting all those affected by the tragedy.
Ms Grande, who staged a One Love concert in Manchester less than two weeks after the attack, tweeted on Tuesday morning to say she was “thinking of you all today and every day”.
Detectives from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) investigating the UK’s worst terrorist atrocity since the 7/7 bombing in 2005 have revealed the number who have suffered physical injury or deep psychological damage has risen from 512 to more than 800.
The tragedy has left a devastating footprint on policing with officers still reportedly off work with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Police Federation has warned of resilience in the service being at an all-time low, with officers under inordinate amounts of pressure taking a heavy toll on their health and wellbeing.
GMP says it has offered bespoke support to officers who responded to the Manchester Arena bombing, while forces across the country have been running campaigns for Mental Health Awareness Week.