Vigils were held across Leeds last night as the city united in solidarity with its cross-pennine neighbour in Manchester’s darkest hour.
The Bishop of Leeds, the Right Rev Nick Baines, and Rector of Leeds Sam Corley were joined by council leaders and multi-faith leaders for a special service at Leeds Minster.
A heavy silence fell within the Minster as a congregation of about 60 people gathered, some wearing Manchester United jerseys. The Right Rev Nick Baines referred to the murder of MP Jo Cox, before saying: “Like with the attack in Manchester, we find ourselves looking for some shape, for a vocabulary, to help shape how we think and how we respond.
“The desire of terrorism is to terrorise and the resistance to terrorism is to refuse to be terrified. It’s partly a choice, we can choose not to be terrified.”
He added: “There will be many vigils and demonstrations of solidarity as we stand together, as we recognise that Manchester could be Leeds, that the children in Manchester could be our children and in fact may be because Manchester draws from Merseyside and right across Yorkshire to that arena.
“We can’t understand the mentality, the sheer cowardice of someone who targets young children... And we can’t remain indifferent to what has happened.”
A vigil was also held outside Leeds Art Gallery by charity Angel of Youths, with organisers saying it was in response to requests from young people and local communities. Around 200 people gathered to hear a series of passionate speeches urging unity.
Among those attending was a survivor of the atrocity Joe Cumbo, 20, a student at the University of Leeds, who said: “I just wanted to come here and do something.
“I was in the arena at the opposite end when we heard a blast,” he told the YEP. “There was a lot of screaming. I saw this mass panic spread across the crowd. I just grabbed my friend and ran. It was like a stampede. I was just lucky to escape.”
Anthony Riley, 20, a friend of Joe’s and a fellow student, delivered a passionate speech at the vigil. He said: “Young people gathered last night to have a good time, and the fact that was taken away from them was an infringement upon all of us. I think we have a duty and a responsibility to come together and say no to hatred, and make sure that it doesn’t divide us.”
A vigil was also due to be held in Otley last night as the community awaited news about missing local mum Wendy Fawell. St Mary’s Church in Beeston opened for prayers and Leeds University Union held a short vigil and silence outside its building.
In a message to students, it said: “In the wake of the horrifying attack in Manchester last night, our thoughts go out to all who have been affected.
Today, Saint Hilda’s in Cross Green will hold a vigil before its Blessed Sacrament service at 6.30pm.
Imam Qari Asim MBE, Imam of Leeds Makkah Mosque and independent member of the Government’s Anti-Muslim Hatred working group, said: “The victims of the horrific attack on Manchester Arena are very much in our thoughts and prayers. This was an attack on all of us.”
He added: “The amazing response of the emergency services and ordinary local citizens, from taxi drivers to passers-by, has shown just how resilient Manchester is as a city.”