Saffie Rose Roussos, eight, was the youngest person killed in the Manchester Arena terror blast. AASMA DAY talks to Saffie’s dad Andrew Roussos about why he wants to organise a huge benefit concert and create a charity for future victims of terrorist attacks
Parents desperately want to protect their children from danger and the harsh realities of life, but sometimes they are completely powerless in safeguarding them from terrible things.
Andrew Roussos and his family suffered every parent’s worst nightmare when bright and beautiful Saffie went to her first ever concert to see idol Ariana Grande perform – but never came home.
Saffie attended the concert on May 22 2017, with her mother Lisa and her sister Ashlee Bromwich, and was the youngest of 22 people killed when a suicide bomber detonated a device.
Saffie’s mum and sister both suffered serious injuries.
Andrew, 44, who ran The Plaice fish and chip shop in Leyland where the family lived, has revealed that only a couple of years before the tragedy, they changed their plans for a trip to Paris in the wake of terror attacks that hit the city.
Andrew, who is married to Lisa, recalls: “When terror attacks happen, many people are fearful of going to certain places on holiday and change their plans to protect themselves and their families.
“Before all this happened, we had planned a family trip to Paris in 2015 but we cancelled because of the wave of terror attacks there.
“As a parent, it scares you and makes you nervous. We did end up going in the end, but we went to Disneyland Paris and didn’t go into the centre of Paris. We stayed away from the city that Saffie really wanted to visit because of the risks of all the attacks in our modern day of terrorism.
“I, as a father, did everything possible to protect my family to the point of stopping Saffie going on school trips because I wouldn’t be there to protect her.
“Not once did I think the young and innocent would be targeted at a concert.”
Losing Saffie in such a horrific way has made Andrew and his family realise that, sometimes, however hard you try to look after your children, danger can be lurking anywhere.
Andrew now wants to organise a massive music concert to honour the 22 people killed in the Manchester attack to raise money to support future victims of terror.
Andrew wants the event to be like a “modern day Live Aid” and wants superstars such as U2, Ed Sheeran, Take That, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Robbie Williams and Beyonce to take part in the memorial concert.
Lancashire Cricket Club has agreed to stage the event on August 19 if Andrew can persuade music stars to perform, but he has hit a stumbling block as he is struggling to get hold of big name music acts and ask them to perform.
Andrew says: “Our lives have changed forever and nothing is going to make things better.
“We can’t move on as how can a parent move on from losing a child?
“I now have to channel my life into looking after my family and my 12-year-old son, Xander, and I also want to do something to get a positive out of my daughter’s short life.
“I want something good to come out of something so bad.”
Andrew has criticised the Government for not doing enough to support terror victims and says that without the overwhelming public support shown to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund and the One Love Manchester concert, he and his family would have been left struggling financially.
He says: “If it was not for the generosity of the public, we would be on the streets.
“We lost our daughter, our home and our business as there was no way we could stay there, so we had to sell it. If it was not for the public coming together for the Manchester fund and the One Love concert, where would we be?”
Andrew says although the Government set out £24m to support Greater Manchester after the attack, this money did not go to the families and the support they received was from the Manchester fund.
He believes the Government needs to set up something for victims of terrorism and wants the concert to raise money for future victims of terror attacks and create a charity to support them.
Andrew explains: “Since this attack happened, the world stopped in its tracks.
“People said: ‘this is wrong. It shouldn’t have happened.’
“The attack targeted the most vulnerable and pure.
“The love, support and strength the public showed us helped us get through each day.
“The heartfelt and ongoing support we have had till this day from Lancashire, Manchester, the UK and the world really has helped and I don’t know what we would have done without it.
“The aim of the concert is for a new charity to be set up in memory of the 22 to help future victims of terrorism.
“I have spoken to some of the other families and they are in support of this.
“Who is better qualified to look after victims of terrorism than us?
“The money raised will not be for the 22 – we won’t touch a penny of it.
“The Manchester Emergency Fund and the One Love concert showed a staggering amount of support for everyone affected and £22m was raised.
“This shows what good this world can do when it is united.
“The world is a beautiful place. It is the evil in humans that messes it up.
“What this attack has done is to unite the good people and there are a lot of good people out there who are standing together with love and support to say: ‘enough is enough.’
“This new charity will be for future victims of terror as, unfortunately, there are likely to be future victims, although I hope with all that I am that there won’t be any.
“When an atrocity does happen, those affected need help and support and this charity will be for future victims so they can get the support they need.
“I have the full support and backing of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Lord Kerslake to do what they can to get Government backing to put something in place to help future victims of terrorism.”
Andrew also feels a concert featuring world famous stars will he a great way to bring the world and the community together through the power of music.
Andrew says: “Music unites us all like nothing else. Every corner of the world is united with its love of music.
“I want to celebrate Saffie’s life as she was such a vibrant little girl and she loved music.
“By staging this concert, the country and the world can stand together and unite in something positive.
“The aim is to bring the good in people together.
“Our loved ones lost their lives that night at a music concert and what better or fitting way to keep their spirits alive.
“The profits of the concert’s ticket sales will go towards a charity to be set up in memory of our loved ones and to help and support future victims of terrorism in the UK.”
Andrew is frustrated as despite many efforts from him and many other people, so far no music stars have confirmed they can attend the concert. Hectic tour schedules and trying to get hold of people through promoters has made his task even more difficult.
Andrew is appealing to anyone who has contacts with big name music stars to help him in his mission.
Andrew says: “I have secured one of the largest venues in the country on August 19 and the support of Simon Moran from SJM Concerts to make this happen once I get the world’s top artists to commit.
“It is very frustrating as I have been trying so hard to reach out to artists to perform at this concert.
“We just need a big name to come on board and hopefully others will then come on board, too.
“All we want is 20 minutes or half-an-hour of their time for them and for them to sing one song or sing all night.
“In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think I am asking for too much. I just want something good to come out of something so evil and for the good people of this world to stand together for the sake of humanity.
“I want to celebrate Saffie’s life and the lives of the rest of the 22 and keep their memories and spirits alive and set up a charity to help future victims so some good can come out of a tragedy.”