This is an article written by Young Reporter Grace Trippitt to remember her experiences at the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017. Article appeared in the Grimsby Telegraph on 22nd May 2021 here.
My most difficult article by far to write. Thinking of the frame to present this in is far from easy. This is based on my own story, but also is about telling others stories. It’s been nearly 4 years since the UK dealt with the deadliest terrorist attack in over a decade. In 2017, the cowardly and horrific acts of ISIS were completed by one single man, in the attempts to murder not just himself, but everyone attending Manchester arena for a concert that night. 22 lives were taken from us. Men, women and children. Over 800 were injured, and left with lifelong physical injuries, and among 10,000 of us were hit with the most deadly injury of all, memory. ‘Us’. Years ago, relating to news stories would have been unreal. But no.
That night my mum and I were among many who were left with the deadly scar of memory. From mine, and many others experience that night, it is truly one I wouldn’t wish on anybody. I often wish my senses were taken from me before attending the concert, so that my ears wouldn’t have heard what they had, my eyes hadn’t seen what they had, my nose hadn’t smelt what it had, and my mouth hadn’t been able to ask the questions of survival or not to my mum who had no clear answer. Going into depth would be too personal as my story is also someone else’s; thousands of someone else’s out there. But I do need to tell the story of the victims’ families, who were put through more than just the death of their loved ones, the grief, the sorrow, the flashbacks of the calls they received, but also trying to have one of the helpers in the attack sentenced – which took much longer than it should have.
I have listened to the brave lives of Figen Murray whose son, Martyn was taken from her on that night. Figen now has campaigned and officially led a law, ‘Martyns Law’ which states that all arenas and large venues should have the correct amount of security to avoid this happening again. She is one of many of the victims’ families that have bravely pieced herself back together in order to do something so far from cowardice, so far from evil in the face of just that, in memory of the one they lost.
To many this night never seemed real. It only ever washed over me in huge waves months after. From then on comes the processing. I find myself thinking from time to time, ‘I was only 11’, I was just a child, and unfortunately I was among thousands of other children that night (some younger than myself). One very young, who was brutally taken from the world. 8 year old Saffie Rose, who would have been 11 also now. She was among Nell Jones, Sorrell Leckowski and Eilidh MacLeod who were all under the age of 15. These names belonged to mere children. I still haven’t processed and never will how somebody would feel they need to do this. They took away their opportunity of leaving secondary school, of having children, of achieving their dreams. It is a concept I will never understand. Being present when something as large as this happens, there comes a mass of attention. That for me never was good. It was as though for a short while I was consumed by the event. Being defined as ‘the girl that was THERE’. From speaking to other survivors, this was a mutual feeling they had; a mutual experience other than the obvious. I have spoken to many, all with different memories of that night, but not one person I have encountered has said, ‘it was easy’, not one person has said, ‘I never had nightmares’, not one person said, ‘I was never scared to go out’, not one person, even those not physically present has not felt a certain loss. My family and closest friends were among those who were at home and were woken by the news. My social media was flooded with messages, friends waiting for a reply which they only received in the late morning. With no idea of whether I was okay, my friends had to wait most of the morning until I replied to know that I was alive. So, the experience for everybody had an effect. Nobody was left without a scar.
But I was lucky enough to have seen the city of Manchester heal and unite together. I have the privilege today to also be able to do that myself. Not only that, but I’m here. There are people who aren’t. It is a gift that I survived something many didn’t, and I will continue to live for the ones who can’t every single day.
To the survivors, the injured, the PTSD-riddled; my mum; the families; friends who I have connected with, and Manchester, I am so proud, beyond words. Thank you for showing me how to love again.
And for the 22 this week and forever, this is for you. Always remember. Never forget. Forever Manchester.
Article by Young Reporter Grace Trippitt.
Appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 22nd May 2021.
Please visit the Telegraph page which includes a memorial to the 22 people who were killed on that day.