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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Manchester bombing victims remembered on first anniversary

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince William joined families of the victims for the cathedral ceremony

A minute of silence fell over the city of Manchester on Tuesday as Britain mourned the 22 killed in a suicide bomb attack a year ago outside a teen pop concert. There were flower tributes, songs and a memorial service to honour the dead.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince William joined families of the victims – seven of whom were under 18 – for the cathedral ceremony to remember the May 22 Manchester Arena attack during an Ariana Grande performance.

Salman Abedi, a British man of Libyan heritage, blew himself up in the foyer of the venue, in the northern English city, and an investigation continues into how the attack happened.

“In this service we come together as people of different faiths and none, and to remember with love before God those whose lives were lost and those whose lives have been changed forever,” said Manchester Cathedral dean Rogers Govender.

The service, attended by first responders, civic leaders and some of the scores injured in the bombing, led the minute of silence at 2.30pm local time, which was also marked at British government buildings nationwide.

Prince William and members of the Sikh, Jewish, Muslim and Humanist communities also made readings, and a youth choir sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow – the same song with which Grande closed the One Love Manchester benefit concert organised two weeks after the bombing.

“You who were hurt or bereaved 12 months ago today are forever part of Manchester, forever part of us,” said bishop of Manchester David Walker.

“The targeting of the young and innocent as they enjoyed a carefree night out ... was an act of sickening cowardice,” Theresa May wrote in the Manchester Evening News.

“It was designed to strike at the heart of our values and our way of life in one of our most vibrant cities, with the aim of breaking our resolve and dividing us. It failed.”

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber replied to the newpaper’s front page on Twitter with a message of support reading: “We will never let go of hope. #OneLoveManchester”.

Ms Grande, who had just finished performing when the bomber struck, also shared a message of support for those affected.

“I love you with all of me and am sending you all of the light and warmth I have to offer on this challenging day,” she wrote.

Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford paid tribute to his home city, writing on the club’s website about the “unimaginable” attack.

“Nobody will ever forget what happened but the way Manchester pulled together shows you everything you need to know about the people here. Seeing how everyone reacted made me so proud to be a Mancunian.”

United went on to win the Europa League final against Ajax on May 24, dedicating the victory to the victims of the bombing. Mr Rashford and teammate Jesse Lingard visited survivors of the attack shortly afterwards.

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Manchester Storm ice hockey team also announced on Tuesday they are retiring their number 22 jersey in honour of the victims.

“Since taking over the club we’ve wanted to do something to honour those affected by the attack,” said managing director Jamie Tunstall.

Tuesday’s remembrance service was also shown on a big screen in nearby Cathedral Gardens, as well as at churches in York, Liverpool and Glasgow.

Later on, thousands of people – many of them youngsters – gathered in the city centre for a Manchester Together concert, with performances from local youth choirs, poetry and recorded messages of support from celebrities, including former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs.

“All our thoughts today are with those who lost their loved ones and best friends,” said Lord Mayor June Hitchen before the performances began, also paying tribute those who suffered psychological trauma and to the emergency services which responded to the bombing – to massive applause from the crowd.

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, told BBC Radio that all those impacted would be “at the very forefront of our minds” during the day.

“We’re stronger than we were, we’re more together and there is a more palpable sense of community spirit, but underneath, the scars are very real and they’re very deep,” he said.

“We’re a city in recovery and we’ve still got a long way to go.”