As the funeral of the youngest victim of the Manchester terror attack takes place, Megan Titley looks at Saffie Roussos’ life and legacy.
It was a nightmare that no mother would want to wake up to.
But as she regained consciousness Saffie’s mum Lisa looked at her husband Andrew and said “She’s gone, isn’t she?”
Saffie Roussos, eight, died of multiple injuries after suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a home-made device at Manchester Arena as crowds left following a gig by the American singer Ariana Grande on May 22.
The Tarleton Community Primary School pupil was one of the first of the 23 victims to be named.
It sent her hometown of Leyland, where her family owned The Plaice fish and chip shop, and her school friends in Tarleton into a stupor of grief and shock.
In the week after Saffie was killed the horror of her death was made even more stark as no one knew if Lisa, who was seriously injured and unconscious in hospital, knew of what had happened to her daughter.
However in an interview with the BBC after Lisa had regained consciousness, on what would have been Saffie’s ninth birthday, Andrew said: “She (Lisa) just looked at me and said She’s gone, isn’t she?’ I said yeah’. She goes: I knew’.”
He had been dreading the moment he would have to tell his wife that their daughter had been killed in the atrocity which sent shockwaves through the nation.
Saffie had been at the concert with her mother and older sister, Ashlee Bromwich. Saffie, a huge fan of Grande, had been dressed head to toe in the singer’s merchandise.
Ashlee related later how she was thrown to the ground by the huge explosion. She and Lisa, 48, were both hospitalised with serious injuries from the blast.
Lisa came off life support and regained consciousness about a week after the bomb.
In the weeks following Saffie’s death there was an outpouring of grief.
Mourners laid countless flowers and cards outside the chip shop in Hough Lane which the Rousses family live above.
A vigil was held in Worden Park where hundreds gathered to remember both Saffie and 18-year-old Georgina Callander from Tarleton who also lost her life in the bomb attack.
Headteacher of Tarleton Community Primary School Chris Upton described Saffie as “a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word”.
He said: “She was loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly. Saffie was unassuming with a creative flair.”
On what would have been Saffie’s birthday, on July 4, crowds in Leyland released balloons over the town during a minute’s silence.
Friends and neighbours had not wanted the day to pass by unnoticed and had organised the balloon release in her honour.
Saffie’s dad Andrew, big sister Ashlee and brother Zander, 10, also marked the occasion by making sure she was remembered on national TV, something fun-loving Saffie would have appreciated.
“We didn’t just want to let her birthday pass,” said Andrew in the BBC broadcast on the big day.
“Saffie loved the limelight. She was a joker, she was a huge character. She was everything you could wish for in a little girl.
“I know that Saffie would have loved her pictures to be on and to be spoken about on TV.”
The Roussos family, who are originally from Limassol in Cyprus, lived in Southport when they first moved to the UK where Saffie and Zander attended Tarleton Primary School.
When they moved to Leyland later, the children remained at the school.
The night of the atrocity in Manchester
It was the deadliest attack in the United Kingdom since the July 7 2005 London bombings.
As young Ariana Grande fans left her concert at Manchester Arena, 22-year-old British Muslim Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated a homemade bomb.
The improvised explosive was packed with nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel.
Abedi had taken 23 people’s lives in the terror attack, along with his own. The blast had injured 250 others.
It was 10.31pm on May 22 and many of the 14,200 concert-goers had been in the foyer of the Arena at the time of the explosion.
Greater Manchester Police force
Greater Manchester Police declared the incident a terrorist attack and suicide bombing.
After initially suspecting the involvement of a larger terrorist network, police later said they believe Abedi had largely acted alone, but that others had been aware of his plans.
Officers had initially arrested 23 people in connection with the blast. They then de-arrested two people and released the 21 others without charge.
Nobody has been charged in connection with the terror attack to date, and Abedi died at the scene.
The Lancashire victims of the Manchester bomb attack
Four of the victims of the atrocity in Manchester were from Lancashire.
Eight-year-old Saffie Roussos from Leyland, 18-year-old Georgina Callander from Tarleton, school receptionist Jane Tweddle, 51, from Blackpool and 45-year-old Michelle Kiss, who grew up in Leyland before moving to Blackburn.
Georgina was the first bomb victim to be named in the blast. Although she was rushed to hospital by ambulance attempts by medics to save her life failed and she died with her mother Lesley at her bedside.
Georgina was an Ariana Grande “superfan” who had met her idol two years previously and had tweeted the star the day before her concert saying: “So excited to see you tomorrow.”
She was a student at Runshaw College in Leyland and a former pupil at Bishop Rawstorne CE Academy in Croston.
Hundreds of people all dressed in yellow lined the streets of Tarleton for Georgina’s funeral on June 15 as her horse-drawn hearse made its way to Holy Trinity Church for the service.
Michelle Kiss had been killed instantly in the attack her husband Tony Kiss, 45, learned later.
Their daughter Millie, who had been at the Ariana Grande concert, miraculously escaped physical injury - a fact which Tony believes was due to Michelle’s protection.
He said Michelle, who devoted her life to caring for her family and friends, was a “guardian angel”.
Michelle lived in Leyland until the age of 10 when she moved with her family to Lammack in Blackburn.
She also had two sons, Elliot, 17, and Dylan, 20, with Tony.
Jane Tweddle, a receptionist at South Shore Academy in Blackpool, died after going to Manchester Arena to pick up a friend’s daughter.
Her daughters Harriet Taylor, Lily Taylor, and Isabelle Taylor said: “There are no words for how we feel - our mum was every part of us. She is our strength, our laughter, our inner warrior, our kindness and our compassion. Forever we will hold on to those traits for it is our mum who instilled them in us.”