Monday 22 January 2018

'She knew I was there' - Mum of Manchester terror attack victim comforted daughter in her dying moments

Georgina Callander
Georgina Callander

Jack Hardy

The mother of terror attack victim Georgina Callander has spoken of her desperate efforts to bring comfort to the teenager's final moments.

The 18-year-old was killed in the blast shortly after her favourite artist Ariana Grande left the stage at the Manchester Arena on Monday.

As paramedics battled to save her life, she had her mother by her side.

Lesley Callander, who found her daughter on a stretcher, told ITV news: "They were working, doing resuscitation and getting her down the stairs.

"I was just screaming and shouting at her. I was rubbing her hands, I was rubbing her tummy, I was rubbing her face."

She added: "I don't know what was running through her mind.

15 of the 22 victims of the Manchester terror attack
15 of the 22 victims of the Manchester terror attack

"It was just a flicker of hope that she'd move her hand or move her leg or try and open her eyes a little, just to acknowledge that I was there, just to let me know that she was very, very poorly but she knew that I was there."

The night's event was supposed to have been a memorable one for the young music fan from Lancashire.

She had previously met Grande and posted a picture of the pair together on social media.

Read More: Manchester shows human spirit in face of inhuman act

As the date of the concert came closer, excitement reached fever pitch, her mother said.

"She kept texting me telling me her tummy was turning over.

"She was so, so excited."

Speaking through tears, her father Simon said he was wracked with guilt for not being with his daughter that evening.

"I should have been there to hold her hand, when she was lying there," he said.

Meanwhile, the father of a schoolgirl who survived the devastating blast paid tribute to the work of the paramedics and hospital staff who cared for her.

Freya Lewis went to the venue with her friend Nell Jones, who was killed.

Her father Nick Lewis said the youngster had returned from her second major operation, which removed shrapnel from the "many wounds" she had suffered.

Read More: These are the victims of the Manchester concert attack

The Year 9 pupil is to be gradually taken off sedatives and will then regain consciousness, he added.

In a statement released through her Cheshire school, Holmes Chapel, he said: "Then the real challenge starts as we discover how she is psychologically, and we start to help her process what has happened over the past few days.

"Words cannot really describe our thoughts about the staff and the care Freya is receiving here.

"Awesome is as good as we can come up with, but that doesn't feel adequate.

"We have nothing but the utmost respect for all of the professionals that have been caring for Freya and our family over the past few days.

"Our thoughts and love are with the family and friends of Nell. This lovely young girl, Freya's friend with whom she went to the concert, died at the scene.

"Our pain is unimaginable, but even we cannot begin to understand where Nell's family are finding the strength to deal with their loss, in such tragic circumstances.

"We have been in contact with Nell's family and take great comfort from the very dignified way in which they have come together as a very close family."

Press Association

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