“We are Manchester”.
That was the message as Preston Council leader Peter Rankin led hundreds of people in a show of solidarity for the victims of the Manchester bombing.
Crowds stood solemnly in the sunshine on the flag market in Preston as people of all ages and religions gathered to listen to speeches and observe a minute’s silence.
Coun Rankin said what had happened in Manchester was “senseless murder” carried out by a psychopath who set out to destroy innocent young peoples’ lives.
He said the terrorist’s aim was to create division, but “that was not going to happen.”
Iman Amjad Yoosuf said the attack was “nothing to do with Islam” and stressed that terrorists merely wanted keep communities apart.
Jeremy Dable of the Preston Faith Forum described the attack as “an abomination”.
Imam Mukhtar Master told the crowd that if anyone of his faith had been aware of what the bomber was about to do, they would have stopped him.
Deputy Mayor Trevor Hart said the city wanted to show solidarity with Manchester.
Among the crowd was eight-year-old Evie Marie Smith, who with her mum Sharna Smith had been at the Manchester Arena.
They were just leaving when they heard the explosion and saw people running away. People were also jumping off balconies.
Sharna, from Blackburn, said: “We weren’t sure what had happened and then we saw blood on the floor.
“It has left us shaken – we won’t be going to any more concerts.”