Giggs: What happened will never leave us, but Manchester's compassion and spirit will unite and strengthen

I was one of those thousands of parents checking upon their children on Monday night when the 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 that 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; 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.
 
I am proud that there have been so many instances already of people trying to help in horrible circumstances. I cannot say that 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 kind and warm spirit.
 
We will never forget the people who have been killed and the families’ lives turned upside down the 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 great universities and opportunities for young people.
 
Manchester is a great place. I know I would say that, but 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 Manchester’s 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 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 that 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 the 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 kind of place and it will be the same attitude after the events of May 22.
 
There are families in Manchester whose lives will have changed forever 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 and their children’s wellbeing. I consider myself fortunate that so far no-one I know well has been directly affected.
 
My heart goes out to all the parents who have lost children – and perhaps the children who have lost parents. I hope that they can find some strength. There is no preparing you for the day that something like this happens in your city, in places you know, to people you care about. The seriousness of what happened in Manchester on Monday night will never leave us.
 
Yet it will continue to be a city which is rich in diversity - this is the foundation which it is built on. People enjoy the things we all love – the football, the music, the bars, the restaurants, the shops, the sheer energy of the place. I feel that is important to say, having lived there most of my life, that there is so much that is good about Manchester. 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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