The faces behind the terror: Three girls affected by the Manchester bombing speak out for the first time of the trauma and lasting psychological impact ahead of the first anniversary

May 18, 2018 lilit 0 Comments

Amelia, 18, was six feet away from the bomb when Salman Abedi set it off
Erin, 11, witnessed the aftermath and was left scarred by what she saw
Grieving Louise Murray, 20, lost her brother Martyn Hett, 29, in the terror attack 
They reflected on their experiences, for the first time, in a BBC Three programme

Three girls who were all affected by the 2017 Manchester bombing have spoken for the first time about the lasting psychological damage each has endured as the first anniversary approaches.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, detonated a device at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on May 22nd, killing 22 people, including seven children, and injuring more than 100 others.

Louise, 20, the sister of Martyn Hett, 29, who tragically lost his life in the attack, has put her whole life on hold as she deals with the grief of losing her brother.

Amelia, who recently turned 18, was just six feet away from the blast, nearly losing her finger and suffering a severe cut to her leg as well as shrapnel embedded in her face.

It was her first concert without her mother, who has been riddled with anxiety ever since.

Erin, 11, was left traumatized after she witnessed the immediate aftermath, scarred by what she saw she has struggled to come to terms with why she couldn't do anything to stop the attack.

All three reflected on their experiences for the first time over the course of nine months for a BBC Three documentary, Manchester Bomb: Our Story. 

Louise explained in the documentary that she had no idea her older brother had been at the concert, only when news filtered in from his friends did she realise he was missing.

Within ten minutes of arriving to the Etihad Stadium in Manchester where relatives of missing persons were gathered, Louise said she found out the terrible news alongside several other families. 

'That sound was the most traumatic sound, 13 families wailing and screaming, they were so heartbroken that they had lost people they love and we were all doing it, and that was within ten minutes of us getting there.'

Unable to leave her family behind in the months following the attack, Louise decided to drop out of university in a bid to cope with her grief.

'It kind of feels like you’re a bit of a failure. I was supposed to be going to Leeds to study fashion design, I’d sorted out my accommodation, my loan and signed the contract but then I just decided not to. 

'I just don’t think I’d be good at making friends right now, it just doesn’t sound fun anymore, making new friends. 

'I don’t think I could go out and enjoy myself. 

'I didn’t want to be known as the girl who lost her brother in that terrorist attack.'

Louise admitted that she's found grieving 'exhausting and quite suffocat[ing]' but has found solace in the special teddy bears her family made out of her brother's old shirts. 


For Amelia, it was the first concert she had been to without her mother Tina. 

She was stood six feet away from the bomber and was physically injured in the attack when nuts and bolts struck her and three of her fingers were left severely damaged, now her mother struggles to let her out of her sight, terrified of losing her.

Celebrating her 18th birthday seven months after the attack, Amelia explains that before she would have likely gone out with her friends in her hometown of Wigan, but a low-key party is preferred by her mother. 

‘I don’t think I’d be that scared of another terror attack happening, because the worst thing that happened has happened without sounding cringey it’s kind of made me realise that life is short. 

'I want to get out and do stuff, but my mum is finding it harder to cope with things, she’s always thinking about could it happen again,' Amelia explained.

The teenager was forced to drop out of college, where she was studying her A-Levels, because of the regular trips to the hospital. 

Now she has counseling after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has been placed on anti-anxiety medication Propranolol.

Her face is marked from where the shrapnel hit her face and has not gained full strength in her hands where her fingers were injured. 

'I suppose as time starts going on and everybody is getting on with their lives, it’s kind of left me like, “What am I doing? Am I moving on? So what is next?"' she asks. 

ERIN, 11

In an attempt to escape the scene of devastation Erin and her mother Annette, had to run with her older sister Caitlin, 14, right through the site where the bomb exploded.

She witnessed the aftermath and had been unable to speak about what she saw for months after; battling with flashbacks and scared to leave the house. 

'It is just awful what comes into my head never comes out. Just your experience in everything, what you saw you can’t really see anything else,' Erin said in the documentary.

‘Sometimes it just comes out of nowhere, it just pops up. Sometimes it goes from absolutely nothing down to the bottom of my feet and then it teleports up.' 

The youngster who is filmed in dance practice said that she divided her life into 'before Ariana and after Ariana' - the tickets for the concert were a Christmas present from her mother.

What happened on the night of the Manchester attack?

Twenty-two people were killed and over a 100 injured when a bomb went off in the foyer of the Manchester Arena on May 22 last year.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his home-made device at 10.31pm as 14,000 people streamed out at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Officers from British Transport Police were on the scene one minute later and declared a major incident by 10.39pm. 

However, a recent report found that a mix-up between police and the fire and rescue service meant the valuable assistance of fire crews was delayed by two hours and six minutes after the bombing.

Two weeks after the attack, Ariana Grande organized a One Love Manchester benefit concert to support the victims of the bombing. 

‘I just want to be normal, I would like to be like everyone else.

'Now I look back on how I was then and how I am now, it’s a bit like why has it affected me so much? Sometimes it feels like why am I upset because I got out alive and I just should feel lucky and not feel this way.'

Her counselor compared Erin's experience similar to going into a war zone, something which her mother and sister wished she'd never seen. 

Erin confesses that she feels she could have done something about the terrorist if she'd have seen the bag in the first place. 

‘I could have noticed the bag was big and I probably could have got security to check that guy’s bag because it was big and suspicious, rather than having fun in there when people were in the foyer injured.'

But when her counselor pointed out that the end result would have probably still happened, she realizes she was glad she was having a good time in the concert.

As the documentary progresses, Erin appears to deal with her experience by opening up: 'It was just saying a couple of words and look how happy I am, It’s quite life changing, I know that’s a bit dramatic.

'I am free, back to normal. Well, not back to normal fully, but there’s still that scar, but that scar won’t be as red anymore. It’ll be like you can’t really see it that much.' 

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