“We have got to make mum proud every day… to never give up" - Manchester Arena victims’ families describe ‘impossible’ grief

Family members of the Manchester bombing victims have described how “life will never be the same”, with heartbroken parents breaking down in court as they recalled the moment they discovered their loved ones had died.

By Emily Pennink, Ryan Hooper and Pat Hurst, PA
Friday, 21st August 2020, 7:38 am
Updated Friday, 21st August 2020, 7:44 am

Simon Callander described himself as the “proud father” of 18-year-old victim Georgina Callander, who lived in Preston.

Speaking of the aftermath of the bomb, he said: “I didn’t see much daylight for the next few days.

“The house seemed so crowded with family, friends, police and neighbours.

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The 22 victims

“I walk the streets at night because I can’t go out in the day because everyone wants to come up and talk out of the goodness of their hearts.

“But I don’t want to talk.”

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He said: “We believe there is more good in the world than bad but unfortunately it only takes one bad person to devastate and destroy so many lives.”

Harriet Taylor said her family harnessed “the strength and love our mum left behind to come together as an even stronger family” following the death of her mother, Jane Tweddle, 51, a school receptionist who lived in Blackpool.

Appearing to reference Hashem Abedi, she added: “What we have that he will never is love.

“The sooner more people realise this – and stop pointing fingers in times of crisis – maybe we as humans will be better for it.

“We have to start by taking care of each other. If you see someone who’s hurting don’t look away.

“We have got to make mum proud every day… to never give up, and show her how all of us will treasure her memory forever.”

Lisa Rutherford, mother of 17-year-old Chloe Rutherford from South Shields, said her “heart snapped” when she received a telephone call with the news.

Wiping away tears, and supported in court by crutches, she said: “We are lost, we are devastated and we feel an overwhelming loss.

“Somehow we are expected to get through life without her, without our baby girl, and it just feels impossible.

“There is always that empty chair where she should be.”

Caroline Curry held up a photo of her son Liam Curry, 19, also from South Shields, who was Chloe’s boyfriend and also died in the blast.

Mrs Curry spoke through tears as she appeared to address some of her comments to Hashem Abedi, who refused to come into court for his sentencing hearing.

She said: “You took from me something more precious than gold, a beautiful boy, inside and out.

“I want you to look at Liam and remember the beautiful boy that was snatched away.

“Your actions have caused this heartbreak. I just feel cheated. You took his future, my future, my family’s future.

“All we have now is heartbreak and dreams of what if.”

Survivor Claire Booth wept as she described her sister Kelly Brewster, 32, from Sheffield, as “my sidekick”.

Ms Booth said: “I can’t go anywhere in public on my own, even if it’s to the shop.

“Sometimes I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I try as much as possible to find some level of normality.

“My dad has not been able to walk his daughter down the aisle, my mum can’t take her shopping for a wedding dress.

“We will never see her grow old. As a family, we have been thrown into a world of chaos.”

Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, a 29-year-old public relations manager who lived in Stockport, described how she is now unable to go to bed until after 10.31pm, the time the bomb went off.

She said: “I still cannot reconcile that I was fast asleep while my son lay dead on the floor, and I am ashamed about that.

“The enormity of the loss has left a massive void, Martyn was at the top of his game, he had wonderful friendships and he was due to travel.”

Mr Hett’s father Paul Hett said the family would “never get over” his death.

He said: “Few of us can face going near to the arena or Victoria station.

“Every subsequent act of terrorism brings fresh anxiety.

“We are living in constant fear that something like this can happen again – that knock on the door.”

Jayne Jones, mother of Nell Jones who lived in Cheshire, described her daughter as “wise beyond her 14 years”.

Ms Jones said: “She was modest, loyal, clever and kind.

She said the words “devastation, heartbroken” do not “come anywhere near” describing their grief, adding: “We miss her laughter, her wicked sense of humour. But we cherish her legacy.”

Daryl Price, mother of Manchester support worker John Atkinson, 28, said her son was “such a lovely, caring person and just a stranger to violence”.

She said: “He loved life, music and dancing, and most of all being with friends and family.

“Every day is a big kick in the gut.

“The repercussions of that night are beyond measure. The most unbelievable thing is the total disregard for human life.”

Some family statements were handed to the judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, to be read in private.

The family of Megan Hurley, 15, who lived in Liverpool, asked simply to be able to show a court an image of the youngster.

Samantha Leczkowski, mother of Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, from Leeds, said her daughter’s “senseless death” has “devastated us all”.

After the explosion, despite being injured herself, Mrs Leczkowski tried to resuscitate Sorrell.

She said in a statement: “Sorrell’s bedroom has been untouched since (the blast) – I cannot bring myself to alter Sorrell’s room. I find comfort from sitting in Sorrell’s bedroom and talking.

“Losing one of my children has killed me – I may as well be dead.

“I don’t care that my leg doesn’t work – the pain in my heart is the worst pain that won’t go away.

“I had to see Sorrell die in my arms.”

A statement on behalf of the parents of fellow 14-year-old Eilidh Macleod, who lived on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, described her as a popular friend who was “wise, well beyond her years”.

They said: “We still have to stop ourselves calling out her name for our dinner, that will never stop.

“Anger, fear, resentment and heartbreak is something we all have to live with.

“No parent who ever takes their child to a concert should ever have to take them home to bury them.”

Paul Price, the partner of Elaine McIver, a 43-year-old police officer who lived in Cheshire, suffered injuries described by the prosecutor as “dreadful”.

In his statement, Mr Price said: “I feel so isolated and my future’s so uncertain.

“When I was in hospital, friends and work colleagues visited me, but when I came out (from hospital) that all stopped.

“Elaine planned all of our social events and get-togethers, and now I find myself socially isolated without her.

“The loss of Elaine overshadows everything, and I don’t think I will get over it.”

June Tron, the mother of Gateshead plumber Philip Tron, 32, told the court she still suffers nightmares about the bomb going off.

“When I was told my son Philip had died, my world fell apart,” she said.

“I felt immense guilt.

“Why wasn’t I with him when he passed away? Why was my son taken? It should have been me.

“I’m having nightmares about the bomb going off.

“I just want the trial over. I want justice so I can start to breathe.”

Lisa Lees, 43, a beauty therapist from Oldham, was waiting in the Manchester Arena foyer to collect her daughter when she was caught in the blast.

Described as beautiful “inside and out” with an infectious laugh, the loss of Ms Lees had a “massive impact” on her family.

They said in a read statement: “A void has been left which can never be filled.”

The hearing continues at the Old Bailey.