Father of tragic Saffie Roussos: We have seen the worst of human nature but since then we have seen the best
Losing their bright and bubbly daughter Saffie Roussos at the age of just eight was the worst nightmare imaginable for her family.
More top stories: Delays and cancellations on Northern trainsSaffie, who lived in Leyland where dad Andrew and mum Lisa owned fish and chip shop The Plaice on Hough Lane, was full of joy at the prospect of attending her first concert.
Speaking to the Lancashire Post for the first time since their devastating loss, Andrew says: “The toughest thing is trying to explain it to children and some of Saffie’s friends have been having a really difficult time.
“If it was an illness that took her, it would be different. But what happened is extremely hard to explain to young children and it is something children of that age should not be going through.”
In relation to the attack, Andrew simply says: “They targeted the youngest and the innocent and it was wrong.
“It is difficult enough for adults to understand what and why this happened – never mind for children to get their heads around it.”
Saffie went to the Ariana Grande gig with her mum Lisa and older sister Ashlee Bromwich, who both suffered serious shrapnel injuries in the blast.
Lisa was in a critical condition and on life support for weeks and has undergone several operations.
After news of Saffie’s death filtered through the Leyland community were stunned, and The Plaice fish and chip shop became a sea of floral tributes to the little girl who was loved so much by the town.
Andrew says the outpouring of love and support has kept them going through such a difficult time.
He explains: “We have seen the worst of human nature with what happened, but since then, we have seen the best of human nature.
“There are a lot of good people out there and we have been overwhelmed by the love and support people have shown.
“When an atrocity like this happens and people say: ‘this is wrong and we will support you’ it is a lovely feeling and it does help you in your darkest hours.
“We could not have done without the public and the support we have had from the community of Leyland, Lancashire, Manchester and beyond.
“The support has been heartfelt and genuine and has come from right across the world.
“Nothing will ever bring Saffie back but knowing the public is behind you restores your faith in human nature.
“It is lovely to know people were touched by Saffie and to feel their love for her.”
Saffie’s family decided to sell their fish and chip shop after the tragedy and now live down south, as they knew their home without Saffie in it would keep their pain raw and fresh.
Andrew says: “Our life, our home and our business were in Leyland and Saffie was such a huge character and a massive part of it, to go back to that without her and to have those constant memories would have been too hard.
“Saffie spent a lot of time with customers and was known and loved in the Hough Lane area of Leyland.
“Even walking around Tesco would have been difficult as the aisles are the same and we would have been expecting to see Saffie at every corner.
“We don’t ever want to forget Saffie, but being in Leyland, the memories would have been too painful.
“Our job in the fish and chip shop was also a demanding one and we could not have gone back to that after Lisa’s injuries.
“We just wanted a fresh start. Not to start again, because there is no starting over after something like this, but to move away somewhere new and do our best to support each other.”
Andrew is full of pride and praise for his son Xander, 12, who has shown a strength and maturity that belies his years.
Andrew says: “Xander at the age of 12 has had to move to a new area, left behind his friends and started a new school – all on top of losing his baby sister.
“What happened is going to affect him for the rest of his life but he is keeping his chin up the best he can.
“Xander is a remarkable young man and we are very proud of him. We draw strength from each other.”
Remembering his delightful daughter, Andrew’s voice brims with affection. “Saffie was the sort of person who just stopped people in their tracks.
“She was a beautiful and stunning young lady and not a day went by when we weren’t stopped by people complimenting her.
“Saffie had a wicked sense of humour and this magic of capturing people. She had this special something about her.
“Saffie ruled our household – and she still does.
“We talk about Saffie all the time.
“We want to keep Saffie’s spirit alive so she is with us all the time.”