Survivors mark fifth anniversary of deadly UK concert attack

Badly wounded teenager is running a 10km race to thank hospital staff who saved her life

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Freya Lewis, 19, who learnt to walk again after suffering fractures and burns in the bombing. PA
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A survivor of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack is marking the fifth anniversary with a fundraising run through the city to thank the people who saved her life.

More than 20,000 racers in Sunday’s Great Manchester Run are applauding the 22 victims before the starting pistol is fired, while church bells will toll at 10.31pm, the time a bomb was detonated at the Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, set off a bomb contained within his shrapnel-filled rucksack in the foyer of the venue as thousands of people left the concert.

His brother Hashem, who was in Libya at the time, is serving life in prison for helping to plan the attack.

The 22 dead included six children and hundreds more were injured, including Freya Lewis, now 19, who learnt to walk again after suffering multiple injuries, fractures and burns in the bombing.

She will be running on behalf of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity, where staff saved her life.

Ms Lewis, who used a wheelchair for three months and whose best friend, Nell Jones, 14, was killed in the attack, has raised more than £67,000 ($83,700) with her family since then.

She told the BBC that her late friend was an unforgettable person. “She was just the most wonderful sister to me and someone that will be with me for the rest of my life,” she told the broadcaster.

Andy Burnham, Manchester's mayor, will run with a team from the UK’s state-run National Health Service.

The Labour mayor said in a tweet: “Five years ago, I visited MRI and Wythenshawe Hospital after the Arena bomb and saw the dedicated care NHS staff gave to victims.”

He said five years on, he was raising money for the hospital group “to show we appreciate everything they did then and since”.

Remembrance services will also take place at the memorial commemorating the 22 people who died in the attack. Bells at the nearby Manchester Cathedral will toll at 10.31pm.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the courage shown by people in Manchester in the days following the attack had “touched the world” as he paid tribute to the victims.

“Like the country, my thoughts are with the victims, families and friends of all those affected by the cowardly attack on Manchester Arena five years ago today,” he said.

“This was an act of terrorism against the freedoms we all hold dear, but as the people of Manchester demonstrated so courageously in the days that followed, hatred will never win.

“The bravery and defiance shown by Mancunians touched the world, and just as we remember all those taken from us, we must remember and celebrate that triumph of love and community.”

Updated: May 22, 2022, 6:35 PM