Manchester

Manchester terror attack: Saffie Roussos funeral held

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Media captionA montage of photos, set to Ariana Grande's One Last Time, was played in the service

The youngest Manchester bombing victim was a "superstar in the making", her father has said at her funeral.

Wiping away tears, Andrew Roussos joined mourners at the city's packed cathedral to remember "stunning, stunning" eight-year-old Saffie.

She was among 22 people killed when Salman Abedi detonated a homemade bomb at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on 22 May.

The service was the last of the funerals for the victims.

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Hundreds of mourners filed into the cathedral, some wearing pink, which was Saffie's favourite colour.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Andrew Roussos puts a hand around his son Xander as he carries his daughter's coffin

Others carried a single rose, as requested by the family, in tribute to their daughter's middle name, Rose.

Saffie's coffin was also covered in roses.

Image copyright PA

Saffie, from Lancashire, had been at the venue with her mother Lisa and sister, Ashlee Bromwich, 26, who were both injured in the attack.

During the service, Mr Roussos said he had been "honoured to be her dad" and she was "a superstar in the making".

"To become something in life, you need to have that something," he said.

"That spark. That charisma. The ones that make it are born with it, they get it from the very beginning.

"Saffie had that."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Saffie's mother Lisa Roussos and brother Xander watched as her coffin, covered with roses, was carried out of the hearse
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Andrew Roussos described his daughter as "a joker" and "a huge character"

Mr Roussos added the "Manchester community, family and friends have been fantastic".

The cortege left Wythenshawe Hospital, where Mrs Roussos, who has undergone multiple operations since the attack and for a while was in an induced coma, is still receiving treatment.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins
Image caption Saffie's coffin was covered in roses

A letter from her sister Ashlee was read out in which she wrote: "I close my eyes and I see your face with your brown eyes burning.

"I imagine how you run up and jump into my arms. I see you everywhere, with your smile from ear to ear.

"You lived to entertain, and to keep us all smiling. Something about you got everyone's attention. Your silliness and jokes are the highlights of my memories.

"Whatever you wanted, you were going to make it happen. I wish I could do you justice with my words.

"Nothing more, nothing less could I have ever wanted in a baby sister."


Image copyright Getty Images

Tom Mullen, BBC News, in Manchester

Manchester Cathedral, just around the corner from the scene of the bombing, seemed an especially poignant location for a day of tributes to the atrocity's youngest victim.

It also marked the last of 22 funerals for those who died.

Many of those ceremonies have been private, unpublicised affairs, but the family of Saffie Roussos extended an open invitation for anyone to come to pay their respects.

A bleak, rainy afternoon did not dissuade hundreds from attending. The cathedral itself was packed, with dozens of others - including many children - listening to the service via speakers set up outside.

Mourners heard how eight-year-old Saffie had loved dance, performance and stardom. She lived to entertain, and had dreamt of one day being as famous as her idol, Ariana Grande.

Today's service, back in the heart of Manchester, was a reminder that she, and all of the victims, will certainly not be forgotten.


Image copyright Roussos family
Image caption Saffie was a pupil at Tarleton Primary School in Lancashire

A montage of photos, set to the music of Grande's hit One Last Time, was also shown before being released by her family and friends.

The YouTube video clip shows a series of photographs and the family said they hoped it would be liked and shared to fulfil her dream of becoming famous.

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Media caption'She was a huge character' - Manchester attack father

Rev Govender said 22 decorative bees would be placed in the cathedral's furniture as a memorial to the victims of the bombing.

He asked Mrs Roussos to hold one of the model bees as he dedicated it to Saffie.

He said the service was a "poignant moment", not just for Saffie's family but also for the people of Manchester.

Saffie's coffin was carried outside to the sound of school friends singing Over The Rainbow as spontaneous applause rang out from members of the public as the funeral cars left the cathedral for a private cremation.

Image copyright Roussos family
Image caption Saffie with her mother, Lisa
Image copyright Vanya Tanner
Image caption Flowers and tributes flooded in for Saffie after the Manchester attack

A short service was also held at Holy Trinity Church in Tarleton, where Saffie went to school, for those who could not travel to Manchester.

The Rev David Craven said: "There was a real desire among some in the community to have a gathering to mark Saffie's life.

"We wanted to open the doors of the church, which will be open all day for quiet reflection, and collective grief.

"You can't even begin to imagine what the families are going through. It's times like this when words seem hollow."

Twenty-one funerals had previously been held for the victims of the attack, several of them private.

The first was for 14-year-old Eilidh MacLeod in Barra, Scotland, on 5 June, and the most recent was for Kelly Brewster in Sheffield on 21 July.

Who were the victims?

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