Families tell of lives being ‘shattered’ by Manchester Arena bombing

Moving tributes have been paid to victims of the Manchester Arena suicide bombing at the public inquiry into the terror attack.

Poignant memories from family and friends remembering the 22 people murdered in the May 2017 attack were heard on Monday as the commemorative hearings phase of the inquiry began.

Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from the island of Barra in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, Martyn Hett, 29, from Stockport, John Atkinson, 28, from Manchester, and Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, from Leeds, were the first four tributes to be heard, with the rest to follow over the next two weeks.

Roderick and Marion MacLeod sat in the hearing in Manchester as a video tribute was played for their daughter, the second of their three girls.

Eilidh MacLeod
Eilidh MacLeod (Manchester Arena Inquiry/PA)

It began with images of a sunrise over the mountains and beaches of Barra, set to traditional Scottish bagpipe music, one of Eilidh’s passions.

Ms MacLeod said: “Eilidh was a very special girl, of course she was, she was mine.

“Even though she was only 14 she was loving life. My whole world has been shattered into pieces.”

Another video began with a portrait photo of Mr Hett, followed by a compilation of home videos of him as a young boy to later social media posts and recordings made by friends and his partner Russell Hayward.

Martyn Hett
Martyn Hett (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

His father Paul Hett said: “Where on earth do you even begin to paint a portrait of Martyn?

“So vibrant, so full of energy.”

Martyn Hett had been due to go on a holiday of a lifetime he had been saving for and the family had held a goodbye party ahead of the trip.

Through tears, Paul Hett continued: “We gave him a big hug and said goodbye… having no way of knowing we would never see him again.”

In a simple tribute, the parents of Mr Atkinson, mother Daryl Price and father Kevan, said that after leaving school he worked with young adults with autism and behavioural difficulties, a job he loved.

John Atkinson
John Atkinson (Manchester Arena Inquiry/PA)

The family’s statements, read by legal representatives, said: “Since John’s untimely death our lives have been torn apart.

“He was the centre of our world. We miss him so much – his laugh, his humour, his personality, his love for his family… we will miss everything about him.”

The final tribute was paid to Sorrell, who lived in Leeds.

A sister to older brother Sebastian and younger sister Sophie, Sorrell died in the arms of her mother Samantha, who was also injured in the blast alongside Sorrell’s grandmother Pauline Healey.

Sorrell Leczkowski
Sorrell Leczkowski (Manchester Arena Inquiry/PA)

In a statement Mrs Leczkowski said: “Sorrell’s unnecessary, senseless and wrongful death has left an entire family broken. My life is over.

“As well as seeing me and my mum blown up I have to deal with seeing Sorrell blown up and die in my arms.”

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi murdered the 22 who died and injured hundreds more after detonating a homemade bomb at the arena following an Ariana Grande concert on May 22 2017.

The public inquiry, expected to last into next spring, was adjourned until Tuesday morning.

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