Tuesday 24 October 2017

Ryan Giggs: I was one of thousands of worried parents checking on their children on Monday night

Former Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs
Former Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs
Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry
Eilidh MacLeod (14)

I was one of those thousands of parents checking on their children on Monday night when news of the Manchester Arena attack first emerged.

I have a 14-year-old daughter who likes Ariana Grande’s music and, while she had not planned to go to the concert, I was struck by the thought she might have got a ticket at the last minute.

At the time, I was in London and desperate to make sure she had not been there. As a parent, those few minutes of uncertainty can feel like a lifetime, and I cannot imagine what it is like for those still trying to discover what happened to their children or to brothers, sisters and parents.

I have taken my daughter and my son to the Manchester Arena many times. My son loved the WWE wrestling. My daughter was captivated by Beyonce. It is a joyful experience as a parent to watch your children experience the thrill of a performer they have only seen before on television.

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

I am proud that there have been so many instances already of people trying to help in

I cannot say I am surprised, and I am sure that over time many stories of kindness will be told. Manchester has great character and its people a warm spirit.

We will never forget the people killed and the families’ lives turned upside down this week. Their loss is immeasurable, but we will support them and help them in any way we can.

At times like these, it seems to me that people first need to grieve and then, over time, they also need to be reminded that this is still a great city – an exciting, vibrant place with superb universities and opportunities for young people.

I struggle to think of a city which has played such a distinctive part in popular culture.

I was lucky to grow up at a time when its music and club scene felt like the most famous in the world, and I was a part of Manchester United’s 1990s renaissance. Then came the rebuilding of the city centre and, in recent years, the re-emergence of Manchester City.

The result has been a modern city and a population who really believe in Manchester and feel proud of coming from there.

I think Mancunians are naturally compassionate and they will want to support one another. We care about the city, and we like the fact that people come from all over the world to watch our football teams or to go to concerts and performances like the one on Monday night.

No one would claim that modern Manchester is perfect or that there are not inequalities to address. Yet by the same token, when the post-war

industrial decline set in, the one I remember really biting in the 1980s, it was not as if the people who live here just gave up. Manchester recovered and became a different place and the same attitude will prevail after the events of May 22.

There are families whose lives will have changed for ever, and I can only begin to imagine their pain and grief. They are on my mind today and will be in the days ahead as the extent of the attack becomes clear.

Like many who live in Manchester, most of Tuesday morning was spent texting and messaging friends to check on them. I consider myself fortunate that so far no one I know well has been directly affected.

The gravity of what happened in our city will never leave us. Yet it will continue to be a place rich in diversity.

People enjoy the things we all love – football, music, restaurants, bars, shops, the sheer energy of the place. There’s so much good about life here.

That, as well as a profound respect for the victims, is what should keep us going in the tough times ahead.

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