Manchester attack anniversary: Deadliest bombing in a decade remembered a year on

The Manchester Arena attack a year ago left 22 people dead. Photo: PAThe Manchester Arena attack a year ago left 22 people dead. Photo: PA
The Manchester Arena attack a year ago left 22 people dead. Photo: PA
They had been there to enjoy a pop concert.

Excited fans of the American singer Ariana Grande, many of them young girls, were streaming out of Manchester Arena when terror struck.

A 22-year-old man born in the same city, Salman Abedi, had come to the venue armed with a shrapnel-laden homemade bomb.

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The attack, which killed 22 and injured hundreds more, was the deadliest on UK soil since the London bombings on July 7, 2005. The youngest victim was an eight-year-old girl.

But amid the horror and grief of the following days and weeks, a new narrative began to emerge: one of resilience and unity.

The bee – the mascot of a city with a proud identity – came to symbolise the defiance of those who refused to be cowed by terror.

It was a tone which the rest of Britain followed as flowers filled Manchester city centre and an emergency fund raised more than £5m in donations.

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Grande, who had a bee tattooed onto her skin as a lasting tribute to the victims of the attack, returned to the city within weeks to lead the One Love benefit concert at Old Trafford.

At a time when they could have been forgiven for being wary of attending live events, more than 55,000 people turned out to watch stars including Justin Bieber, Coldplay and Take That perform in a moving benefit concert which was broadcast to the nation.

Fans who had been at Manchester Arena on the night of the bombing, many of whom had travelled from Yorkshire, were invited for free.

It is a spirit of defiance and unity that continues today, on the anniversary of the atrocity, as Britain observes a minute’s silence and Manchester Cathedral holds a service of remembrance.

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This evening, the Manchester Survivors’ Choir, a group made up people who were at the arena on the night of the fateful concert, will perform in the city’s Albert Square.

Meanwhile, the security weaknesses exposed by the Manchester bombing have seen arenas in Yorkshire and around the world carry out full-scale reviews of the way they try to keep concert-goers safe.

Abedi detonated his device in a public lobby area outside the venue’s security checkpoints.

As a result, many arenas have since widened their checkpoint perimeters as part of full-scale reviews of their security arrangements.

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The presence of armed police outside venues and the turning away of concert-goers who arrive with backpacks is also becoming an increasingly common sight.

At Sheffield Arena, bosses say they introduced heightened security procedures immediately after the Manchester bombing.

Andrew Snelling, chief executive of Sheffield International Venues, which runs the arena, said: “The tragic events in Manchester brought into focus the security of venues, whether this be from the artist, show promoters, the venue, emergency services, local authority or customers.”

The company also runs Scarborough Spa, Whitby Pavilion and Sheffield City Hall and Mr Snelling said procedures would vary between venues because of their location, surroundings, building design and access and entry points.

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He said at Sheffield Arena, certain security measures had “been in place for many years”, including searches with metal-detector wands, restrictions on large bags and the barring of drop-offs and pick-ups close to the venue.

He said: “Some more specific heightened security procedures have been implemented immediately following the events of Manchester and this is an ongoing process based on the latest intelligence and advice from the relevant bodies.”

At Leeds Arena, a wider security cordon now operates as crowds arrive at events, with only ticket-holders allowed through to the security arches and bag check areas.

Backpacks and large bags are not allowed to be taken into the venue.

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A spokeswoman for the North-East Counter Terrorism Unit, which covers Yorkshire, said the current threat level was severe, meaning a further attack is highly likely.

She said: "The tragic events in Manchester and London have shown us that they can occur at any time or place and without warning. Any decisions regarding appropriate security responses in the region are made with this in mind. Where required, threat assessments may also be produced for specific events.

"It is important in the current climate that we remain vigilant and take practical steps where possible to boost protective security. For key sites and crowded places, this may sometimes include increased physical measures, high visibility patrols or armed officers to protect and reassure the public."