A Hartlepool mum who was caught up in the Manchester suicide bombing with her teenage daughter says they feel “lucky to be alive”.
Louise Anderson had bought tickets for her daughter Emily, 17, to see pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena, but found themselves at the centre of a suicide bombing, killing 22 people – including an eight-year-old girl – and injuring 59 more.
Louise and Emily were ready to go back to their hotel when tragedy struck.
“Emily had an operation on her spine last year so as a treat for Christmas I got her tickets to see Ariana,” said Louise, 47, whose husband Jason, 46, who is managing director of Radio Hartlepool, and the couple’s other daughter Abi were spending a night out in Manchester at the time.
“It was a fantastic night and she’d done her last song then said thank you and walked off.
“We didn’t want to leave straight away with Emily having had her operation, so that we didn’t get caught up in the crowds.
“Then we heard this massive boom, which sounded as if a speaker had exploded. “Everyone went silent then people started running out of the arena.
“Emily thought it must be Ariana coming back on but I told her ‘it’s a bomb’.
“People started screaming and it was terrifying.”
After being unharmed, Louise and Emily immediately left the arena as panic set in among concert goers.
“We started leaving before the arena announcement told us to,” added Louise.
“I knew it was a bomb and that’s why I think today we are so lucky to be here.
“Jason and Abi were going to meet us afterwards outside and they could’ve been in the area where the bomb went off.
“That’s what makes it worse, that they could’ve been killed. The whole thing was just terrifying.”
The family, of Grange Road, returned home yesterday. Louise added: “This night was supposed to be a treat for my daughter and it ended up in a tragedy.
“I just can’t believed that someone has stood there and waited for children to come out of the concert to then kill them.
“It’s absolutely sick. They will have known they that Ariana Grande is popular with kids and families so for whoever did this to target them is sick.
“The loss of life is frightening.”
Hartlepool will stand shoulder to shoulder with Manchester in a candle-lit vigil at Jacksons Landing on Saturday at 8.30pm.
Town dad Ashley Foster is organising the event in a show of solidarity.
Ashley, 37, said: “It is just to show our support and let people know that we are thinking of them.
“I’ve got three kids myself and you can’t imagine what the people affected by it are going through. It’s just absolutely dreadful.”
Flags were lowered to half mast at Hartlepool Civic Centre and Hartlepool Fire Station yesterday. A minute’s silence was held at the start of a meeting of the council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee.