Friends pay tribute to Manchester bomb victim who died protecting family

Updated: 

Friends of a woman who died protecting her young niece in the Manchester bomb attack said they are not surprised by her actions.

Kelly Brewster, 32, from Sheffield, died as she shielded her sister Claire Booth and niece Hollie, 11, according to her family.

Her friends Chantelle Garrity and Rachel Ward said Miss Brewster's actions were typical of how she lived.

Miss Garrity said: "As soon as I heard I wasn't surprised.

"She absolutely loved her nieces to death. She loved them more than anything and would have done anything for them.

"So, as soon as I heard, I knew that that would have been true, she would have done that. She would have protected me if that was me, she would have protected you, if that was you. She would have just have put anyone else first."

The friends, who worked with Miss Brewster at a health insurance firm in Sheffield, comforted each other as they looked at flowers that have been laid in tribute in the city's Peace Gardens.

Asked how she felt, Miss Garrity said: "I'm angry. I think that's why I'm not letting it settle in yet. It's not real.

"I feel a bit guilty sometimes that people are asking about how I am but Kelly's not here. It's not about me, it's about her family. I still can't believe it."

Miss Garrity said: "She was just always happy. She had a boyfriend she loved, a stepdaughter. They were buying a house, they were moving house, they wanted to have a baby.

"Everything that any young woman would want, she had. She was only young."

Miss Ward said: "She was such a fun-loving, caring person. She got so much out of life. She was always wanting to be having fun."

She said she last saw her friend on Friday when she was looking forward to the concert in Manchester.

Miss Ward said: "We just feel numb. We just can't believe what's happened. She'd got her whole life ahead of her."

Both young women smiled as they said their friend would be looking down, hating being the centre of attention.

Miss Brewster's partner Ian Winslow confirmed she had died on Facebook on Wednesday.

He said: "Not sure how this works but it isn't good news. Kelly Brewster wasn't one of the unidentified hospital patients. She has sadly passed away in the terror attack yesterday.

"Kelly really was the happiest she has ever been and we had so many things planned together. My daughter Phoebe will be absolutely devastated like we all are."

Relatives have described how Mr Winslow's seven-year-old daughter Phoebe had a very close relationship with Miss Brewster and they were "like sisters".

The couple had recently put a deposit down on a new home and were planning to start a family.

Miss Brewster's sister and niece are both among the injured in Manchester.

According to reports, Mrs Booth has a broken jaw and her daughter has two broken legs. Both have also had bolts from the bomb removed.

Flowers have been laid in the Peace Gardens paying tribute to all the victim of the Manchester bomb, but especially for Miss Brewster. One large bouquet is from Sheffield boxing champion Kell Brook, who also left a message.