Eight-year-old's love for Ariana Grande could have saved her from Manchester suicide bomb attack

The mum of an eight-year-old girl says her daughter can't get the noise of a bomb out of her head.

Wednesday, 24th May 2017, 5:41 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 10:04 pm
Toni Ann Wakeman-Massey and her daughter Olivia at the Ariana Grande concert where a sucide bomber killed 22 people.

Toni Ann Wakeman-Massey and her daughter Olivia narrowly escaped the suicide bomb attack on Manchester Arena which killed 22 people on Monday night.

Desperately wanting to watch every second of US popstar Ariana Grande’s performance, Olivia begged her mum to stay to the end, instead of beating the traffic.

Little did they know, that decision could have saved their lives as a suicide bomber detonated a nail bomb in the arena foyer just minutes later.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

People look at flowers in St. Ann's Square, close to the Manchester Arena where a suicide bomber killed 22 people leaving a pop concert at the venue on Monday night. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 24, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Toni, from the Broadfield area of Leyland said: “We heard a mighty bang just below us and looked to see people scrabbling over chairs, screaming as they ran.

“We didn’t know what was happening, but security guards were just shouting ‘run’ and Olivia was screaming ‘we’re going to die’.”

The explosion killed 22 people, including eight-year-old Saffie from Tarleton, as well as injuring 119 others.

So-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the terror attack, which is the worst since the 7/7 bombings in London.

People look at flowers in St. Ann's Square, close to the Manchester Arena where a suicide bomber killed 22 people leaving a pop concert at the venue on Monday night. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 24, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Hairdresser Toni, who owns Classeys Salon, had only bought the tickets the night before the concert as a surprise for her daughter.

“She was really excited about the gig but we ended up running out of the arena towards the car park terrified,” Toni said.

“There were grown men crying and we knew something just wasn’t right. All I could hear was Olivia screaming and sirens.”

Toni and Olivia, arrived home after midnight to see the devastation unfold with 18-year-old Georgina Callader, also from Tarleton, named as another victim.

People look at flowers outside the Town Hall in Albert Square, Manchester after a suicide bomber killed 22 people leaving a pop concert at the Manchester Arena on Monday night. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 24, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrnel/PA Wire

“That night, Olivia kept waking up saying ‘I can’t get the bomb noise out of my head’,” Toni said.

“I just kept thinking what if, there’s so many what ifs. We could have been in that foyer.”

On Tuesday night, villagers in Tarleton held a vigil in memory of two “beautiful girls”, Saffie and Georgina.

And Toni says being so close to the tragic incident is having a big effect on her daughter.

Emergency services at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig.

“I told her she didn’t have to go to school but she said she wanted to,” the 31-year-old said.

“I think she is a bit overwhelmed and feels like a bit of a celebrity because so many other children keep asking her questions.

“Olivia still can’t believe it and she keeps wanting to read more about what happened.

“When she saw about Saffie she wanted to lay some flowers and I just hope we can get back to normal but I know it’ll take time.”

People look at flowers in St. Ann's Square, close to the Manchester Arena where a suicide bomber killed 22 people leaving a pop concert at the venue on Monday night. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 24, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
People look at flowers in St. Ann's Square, close to the Manchester Arena where a suicide bomber killed 22 people leaving a pop concert at the venue on Monday night. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 24, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
People look at flowers outside the Town Hall in Albert Square, Manchester after a suicide bomber killed 22 people leaving a pop concert at the Manchester Arena on Monday night. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 24, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrnel/PA Wire
Emergency services at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig.