An outpouring of love and grief

Communities in Lancashire came together in an outpouring of grief to remember victims of Monday's terrorist attack.

Thursday, 25th May 2017, 2:31 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:39 pm
Floral tributes. Photo Neil Cross

Teenager Georgina Callander from Tarleton and eight year old Saffie Rose Roussos from Leyland were two of those who lost their lives in the explosion at popstar Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester.

Georgina, aged 18, went to school at Bishop Rawstorne Academy in Croston before leaving to study health and social care at Runshaw College in Leyland.

Saffie was at the concert with her mother Lisa Roussos and her sister, Ashlee Bromwich, aged in her 20s, from Leyland.

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Floral tributes. Photo Neil Cross

There was a sombre atmosphere in the town centre as a steady flow of people lay flowers at The Plaice Fish Shop in Hough Lane yesterday above which, Saffie Rose was believed to live with her family.

Many paused as they paid their respects at the chip shop her dad Andy runs.

“She was always playing out the front, they lived upstairs,” said Craig Atkinson a director at Atkinson craftsman jewellers next door. “She was always on her scooter.

“We heard that she was missing on Tuesday morning and when we heard at around midday that she was killed we closed the shop as a mark of respect.”

Floral tributes. Photo Neil Cross

On the other side of The Plaice around the corner, SOS Computing in Newsome Street, was also closed.

Faye Lawrenson, a dental nurse at Lowerbank Dental Practice in Hough Lane, came to lay flowers for Saffie with a group of her colleagues.

She said: “We are always in the chip shop getting our dinner.

“Saffie was always on her bike out the front playing with her friends.

Floral tributes. Photo Neil Cross

“She was just a lovely little girl enjoying life.”

Dozens of flowers, balloons and children’s teddy bear toys had been placed in front of the shop by people wanting to show their condolences.

Runshaw student Devon Williams, 18, said: “We always come to this chippy and I wanted to pay my respects. She used to play outside in the summer.”

St Andrew’s Church in Worden Lane was open for the duration of the day and into the evening yesterday to provide a space for people to pray and reflect.

Floral tributes. Photo Neil Cross

Associate vicar Rev Dr Duncan Bell said: “It was just encouraging to see friends of Georgina coming together and remembering her and trying to process what happened.

“A couple of members of staff from Runshaw College also came just to sit and talk and laugh and remember her.

“A dad came in who had spent the Monday night helping parents find their children.”

Members of the church also held a prayer gathering in the evening last night to pray for the victims and their families affected.

At Tarleton Community Primary School where Saffie was a pupil her school friends held a one minute silence as a mark of respect.

Headteacher Chris Upton said: “Saffie comes from a close, loving family and we can only imagine what they are going through.

Floral tributes. Photo Neil Cross

“On Wednesday we came together in our hall as a school community where we held a minutes silence in Saffie’s memory.

“We then sang ‘Don’t Stop Believing’.

“As you can imagine, there were many tears from the children and the staff but we know together we have to hold onto the love among us, we owe that to Saffie and her family.”

He added: “It is hard for adults, let alone children to grasp the unfairness and utter randomness of this terrible act.

“Our job now is to support our children and families to deal with the after effects of this traumatic experience and we are being supported by a specialist team from Lancashire County Council in doing this.”

Further along from the school about five minutes drive away the community living near Georgina’s family were also reeling from the news of the deaths of the two young people.

Lizzie Connaughton, 59, of Bluebell Close said: “The community is all in shock. You really don’t expect young people to go like that.

“Georgina, who worked at Booths for a weekend job, was just a really friendly happy girl, she was really helpful.”

A statement issued by Booths in Station Road said: “We are deeply saddened to report the loss of a much-loved and valued colleague.

“Booths are supporting the family, friends and colleagues, as best we can, at this sad time.”

Residents in Hesketh Bank held a vigil for both Georgina and Saffie last night with a three-minute silence and a prayer.

Meanwhile in Preston at Central Methodist Church in Lune Street passersby were invited to tie pink ribbons to the railings.

Rev Sue Griffiths told the Post it was intended as a symbol of solidarity.

She said: “People have been tying ribbons to the railings as an expression of their anger, their grief and their support of the families affected.

“They’ve been getting into conversations with us, they need to know how to express their pain.

“We are going to leave the ribbons out for a couple of weeks.”

Floral tributes. Photo Neil Cross