The mum of Manchester bombing victim Saffie Roussos has been taken off her life support machine and is conscious.
Family friend Mike Swanson said news 48-year-old Lisa, who attended the Ariana Grande concert with the eight-year-old and elder daughter Ashlee Bromwich, was out of danger has allowed the family to start grieving the loss of Saffie.
The 38-year-old, who has been asked to be the family spokesman, said: “The news about Lisa being out of danger is the biggest in this since the start.
“Andrew (Saffie’s father) has been so strong. He’s not wanted to grieve until he knew his wife was going to be okay. He’s been a machine all week.”
“Lisa’s pulling through and it’s really important people know that”, said Mr Swanson, whose daughter Lily was best friends with Saffie, the youngest victim of last week’s Manchester terrorist attack.
Saffie, from Leyland, was at the concert with mum Lisa, 48, and elder sister Ashlee Bromwich, both of whom were hospitalised with serious shard injuries from the blast.
In total, 22 people were killed and more than 100 injured in the attack carried out by Salman Abedi, believed to have entered Manchester area just as the Ariana Grande concert ended.
Of those killed, three were from the Lancashire area - Saffie, 18-year-old Georgina Callander from Tarleton, and mum-of-three Michelle Kiss who was brought up in Leyland before moving to Blackburn.
Many survivors are still being treated in hospitals across Greater Manchester for shrapnel wounds.
Mike, 38, added: “Lisa’s pulling through. She was in a critical condition at first, but she came off life support on Saturday and was up and talking on Sunday. She’s aware of the situation with Saffie.
“She’s still in hospital, but she’s moving her legs, which is fantastic.
“Ashlee is remarkably well. She went to a different hospital to her mum with wounds, but it looks like she might be out as early as Wednesday.”
When news of victims began to filter through on Tuesday morning, Saffie’s name was on the ‘missing’ list, with desperate appeals for information on her whereabouts going viral on social media.
Mike, who runs a computer shop next to the Roussos family chip shop in Hough Lane, was involved in the search with the family, scouring Manchester streets in the early hours and ringing around hospital for information.
He has now been asked by Saffie’s father Andrew to handle fundraising donations, cards, and information to the public.
The father-of-two said: “Me and Andrew are very close and I was there from the very beginning when this all happened.
“It’s been hell since last Tuesday. I had to come home and tell my little girl that her best friend was not coming back.
“To take the weight off Andrew’s shoulders I’ve been dealing with all the cards and sorting out piles and piles of messages to Saffie and the family.
“I’m also going to open a charity account for funds. Money is coming in from everywhere, I get calls everyday. Yesterday I collected about £9,000 or £10,000 just from people’s pockets.”
Local residents have rallied round to support the family, and hundreds of bunches of flowers have been left in memorial to the little girl outside the chip shop where she used to play.
Mike said: “The family has seen the flowers and the posts on Facebook.
“Andrew’s been overwhelmed by it all, he said he didn’t know these people were out there.”
He added: “I’m so proud of him, he’s so commendable. Every time I’ve been to see him he’s given me the strength to inform the people of Leyland.
“People have been asking me about how they’re doing, and I’ve been able to talk positively because of him. It’s been bloody amazing that someone in his position can be like that.”
The Roussos family, who originate from Limassol in Cyprus, first lived in Southport with their children – Saffie and Zander, 10, attending Tarleton Primary School.
When they moved later to Leyland, the children remained at the school.
Headteacher Chris Upton described Saffie as “a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word”.
He added: “She was loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly. Saffie was unassuming with a creative flair.”
“Saffie will change the world”
“Saffie will change the world”, that’s the view of 10-year-old Lily Swanson, Saffie’s best friend.
The schoolgirl, who spent all of her free time playing outside the Roussos family chip shop in Hough Lane with Saffie, has been spreading her positive philosophy to people visiting to lay flowers. She has named the memorial ‘Saffie’s Garden’ and are helping out organising the flowers and removing those that have died.
Lily’s dad Mike said: “When they weren’t playing outside, the kids would sit on the computer and try to get attention from stars by doing little videos and uploading them to social media, seeing how many followers they could get.
“They didn’t get any replies, but they enjoyed doing it.
“When my little girl was struggling last week I sat down with her and we went through all the papers and looked what Theresa May had said, what Donald Trump had said, the celebrities, all the positives.
“I told her, ‘Now everyone’s tweeting about Saffie, and that’s got to mean something.
“She’s on everybody’s mind, Saffie can change the world.’
“When we were out rearranging the flowers and taking out the dead ones, someone came over and asked Lily how she was coping.
“She said: ‘Don’t worry, Saffie’s going to change the world’. That stopped the person from crying.
“If you don’t think like that, you can’t move on.”
The girls, as well as Saffie’s brother, 10-year-old Zander, came to know each other because their dad’s businesses being next to one another. They would play at the front of the shops and in the rooms above the shops.
Mike added: “Saffie was beautiful, funny, cheeky, a little pest at times, but just adorable.”
Ariana Grande concert this weekend
Ariana Grande is returning to Manchester for her One Love Manchester Benefit Concert.
The gig will take place at Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground on Sunday, to raise money for the victims of the Manchester terror attack and their families.
She will be joined by famous friends including Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Take That, Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Usher and Niall Horan.
Mike said: “I haven’t spoken to Andrew about the concert, but Lily wanted to go.
“But it’s an arena and I think it’s a bit fresh. Maybe it would have been better in a month or so. I just wonder about the security and how much tighter that can be so quickly.”
Mike said on the night of the concert, Saffie was dressed “head to toe” in Ariana Grande merchandise.
He added: “Andrew feels for Ariana Grande. He’s said to me that that girl must not stop because of this. She’s a beautiful 23-year-old and didn’t deserve this, she need to carry on because Saffie really enjoyed her music.”
Can you help Lily and Zander?
Mike is keen for his daughter Lily and Saffie’s brother Zander, 10, to enjoy a normal childhood this summer, and is looking for help organising fun experiences for them.
Already they have been taken to see the police helicopter and police dogs by detectives, who he describes as “fantastic”.
He said: “Zander and Lily have to be children. I’m taking them to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and they’ve done things with the police, but if there’s anyone else that can offer them a tour of somewhere, even like a cotton mill or a trip out, then please let me know.”
If anyone wishes to help, contact Catherine Musgrove on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01772 838185.