Memorial to victims of Manchester Arena attack opens to public

The mother of one of the victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack has welcomed a new memorial in the city and said the bombing should never be forgotten.

Figen Murray, the mother of 29-year-old Martyn Hett, said the memorial “would be right up his street” and that he would “love” the people of Manchester to visit it.

The Glade of Light memorial is a white marble “halo” bearing the names of all 22 people murdered in the May 2017 attack and opens to the public from Wednesday.

Families of those who lost loved ones have been able to make personalised memory capsules, containing mementoes and messages, which are embedded inside the halo. They had also been given the opportunity to visit privately before the memorial opened.

Murray, who was appointed an OBE in the new year honours for her work on counter-terrorism, told Sky News that a memorial was “really important after a huge event like the arena attack because it’s not just important for the people who died and the bereaved families”.

She said the family had placed a USB stick, some photographs and “a few special items that I am sure he would appreciate” into the capsule in memory of her son.

“It’s important for the injured, for the people who have been psychologically damaged and for the people of Manchester because this is such a huge thing that happened in Manchester, it should never be forgotten. It’s also a place for future generations to come and remember, so that they are reminded of what happened that day, it’s part of the city’s history,” she added.

The tribute is conceived as a living memorial – a peaceful garden space for remembrance and reflection, featuring plants that grow naturally in the UK countryside and have been selected to provide year-round colour and echo the changing seasons.

Every year around the anniversary, on 22 May, the white flowers of a hawthorn tree planted at its centre will bloom.

The leader of Manchester city council, Bev Craig, said: “We will never forget those whose lives were lost on 22 May 2017. They already had a permanent place in the hearts of Manchester people. Now they have a lasting memorial in the heart of our city.

“The Glade of Light is a beautiful tribute to them and somewhere which will also have profound meaning for everyone affected by the attack. We hope the memorial site will be a place of peace and comfort, standing as a reminder that love is stronger than hate.”

Fences around the site, where work began in March last year, have been taken down for the public to be able to visit the memorial on Wednesday. An official opening event is planned for spring 2022, before the fifth anniversary of the attack.

The memorial is located between Manchester Cathedral and Chetham’s School of Music, at the foot of Fennel Street where it meets Victoria Street.

Hundreds of people were injured alongside the 22 who died, who included six children under 16, the youngest aged just eight, in the attack by the suicide bomber Salman Abedi after an Ariana Grande concert at the arena.

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