Tuesday 24 October 2017

'Stand strong together, with a smile on our face, greater Manchester forever': Watch Tony Walsh's defiant tribute at vigil

Women light candles following a vigil in central Manchester. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Women light candles following a vigil in central Manchester. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Kyran O'Brien and Kathy Armstrong

A stunning poem read at a vigil for the victims of the Manchester bombing is urging people to "stand strong together."

Tony Walsh (51) read his poem This Is The place at a vigil in Albert Square on Tuesday evening.

As thousands gathered to remember the 22 people killed and dozens injured by suicide bomber Salman Abedi  at the Manchester Arena on Monday night, Walsh paid tribute to the region and its citizens.

An extract from the poem reads: "And they’ve covered the cobbles, but they’ll never defeat, all the dreamers and schemers who still teem through these streets.

"Because this is a place that has been through some hard times: oppressions, recessions, depressions, and dark times.

"But we keep fighting back with greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, northern wit, and greater Manchester’s lyrics.

"And these hard times again, in these streets of our city, but we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity.

"Because this is a place where we stand strong together, with a smile on our face, greater Manchester forever."

An injured woman is helped out of the Manchester Arena after last night’s blast at a gig by Ariana Grande, which left 19 dead
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena after the explosion.
Concert goers wait to be picked up at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester
A tweet from U.S. singer Ariana Grande is seen as she makes her first comment since a bombing at her concert in Manchester
Armed police man roadblocks outside the arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. Photo: PA
A police officer escorts people near the Manchester Arena
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People running down stairs as they attempt to exit the Manchester Arena after a blast
Police corden off an area close to the Box Office entrance to the Manchester Arena. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Emergency services at the scene. Photo: PA
A police officer talks to locals outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Armed police officers stand outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
An armoured police Land Rover drives away from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
People sit by the side of the road next to a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Still image taken from video shows a street scene near Manchester Arena after the blast
Armed police block a road near to the Manchester Arena

He said: "As a proud Mancunian, I was worried that I'd find that emotional, particularly when I mentioned my mum, who passed away a while ago.

"It meant a lot to me. I wanted to do it for Manchester. I didn't want to crack, because Manchester won't crack.

Pictured left to right; Olivia Campbell, John Atkinson, Saffie Rose Roussos, Georgina Bethany Callander
Pictured left to right; Olivia Campbell, John Atkinson, Saffie Rose Roussos, Georgina Bethany Callander

"I felt quite calm actually, when it came to do it.

"It was a privilege."

He also said that the piece has an important message about not giving in to hate.

Mr Walsh said: "There was flashes of humour in there because that's Manchester all the time, and it's Manchester even in its darkest hours.

"And it's important to me that the poem is true to Manchester and its people, and we fight through these things with humour, as hard as it is sometimes. That's the Mancunian way."

Read More: 24 hours after Manchester terror bombing: All we know so far about horror attack that killed at least 22 people

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