Mourners gathering for funeral of youngest Manchester Arena attack victim

Updated: 
Saffie Roussos funeral

Mourners have begun gathering for the funeral of Saffie Rose Roussos, the youngest victim of the Manchester Arena bombing.

Dozens of people each carrying a single rose in her memory - a request from the family - have arrived at the city's Cathedral to pay their last respects and celebrate the short life of the eight-year-old.

A single Mass card showing a smiling photo of Saffie was handed to mourners, bearing the message: "We would like to thank you for being here today with us and for all your love & support. The Roussos family."

They had invited anyone touched by her death to attend the service, two months on from the Arena attack, and a steady stream of people began filling the Cathedral from mid-morning onwards.

Saffie was among the throng of elated youngsters leaving Manchester Arena after the Ariana Grande concert, after receiving tickets as a Christmas present from her parents, when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his home-made bomb packed with nuts and bolts.

Saffie Roussos funeral

She died from multiple injuries along with 21 others, seven of them aged under 18.

Today Saffie's mother, Lisa Roussos, 48, who was gravely injured herself, and father, Andrew, 43, will lead mourners, along with Saffie's brother, Xander, 10, and step-sister, Ashlee Bromwich, 23, who was also injured.

The cortege will leave from Wythenshawe Hospital, where Mrs Roussos is still receiving treatment for her injuries.

Mr Roussos, from Leyland, Lancashire, has described his daughter as a girl who wanted to be famous and loved the limelight, singing and dancing in excitement as she counted the days down to seeing her pop idol performing in Manchester.

In Tarleton, the village where Saffie and her brother went to school, streets were festooned with pink ribbons tied to gate posts and lampposts as a mark of remembrance, and a short service will also be held in the local church today.

Coaches have been laid on by a local firm to take people from the village and surrounding area to pay their respects at the funeral in Manchester, but some traumatised school friends of Saffie's will attend the local service.

Chris Upton, head teacher of Tarleton Community Primary School, where Saffie was a pupil, described her as "simply a beautiful little girl".

A police investigation into the terror attack on May 22 is still ongoing.

The service, led by The Very Reverend Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester Cathedral, begins at 1.45pm, followed by a private cremation.