Manchester attack: Council honours 'extraordinary acts of courage'

Ariana Grande Image copyright AFP
Image caption Grande returned to the city to headline a benefit concert

People who displayed "extraordinary acts of courage" in the wake of the Manchester bombing have been honoured alongside pop star Ariana Grande.

A special city council meeting, the first since the attack at the singer's show on 22 May, began with a tribute to those who died.

It also saw the 23-year-old become the first honorary citizen of the city.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese said the meeting showed "terrorists" that the city "will not be cowed".

Salman Abedi, 22, detonated a home-made bomb in the arena's foyer at the end of Grande's concert, killing 22 people and injuring 198 others.

Image copyright Various
Image caption The names of the 22 people who died in the attack were read out at the meeting

Within two weeks of the attack, the singer returned to the city to headline a benefit concert in support of the newly formed We Love Manchester Emergency Fund charity.

The charity, of which Grande is a patron, has raised more than £12m to date.

The meeting began with the city's Lord Mayor Eddy Newman calling for "a moment's quiet reflection" as he read out the names of those who were killed.

It then heard from some of those who were involved in helping the victims in the aftermath, including a theatre sister from Wythenshawe Hospital, who said the "aftershock" of what happened was "still tangible".

At the meeting - Kevin Fitzpatrick, BBC Radio Manchester

Image copyright PA

Council meetings aren't ordinarily a place for string quartets and moments of emotion and grief, but the impact of the attack on Manchester and its people has changed that.

Some of the families of the 22 victims were present to hear accounts from those involved in the response on the night - a nurse at a local hospital, a council officer setting up support centres and a taxi company's boss, whose drivers ferried terrified survivors for free.

There's a deep sense here that while life goes on, for many, it will never be the same again.

Through tears, Mark Rainey, from the council's response team, said the attack had been very difficult and had seen the council "activate a number of plans we never wanted to use, such as the mass fatality plan".

The meeting also heard from youth councillor Daniel Rimes, who said there was now a "dialogue of hope and confidence" which was allowing "young people to have difficult conversations".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many concert goers took refuge in hotels near Manchester Arena after the attack

He said the city's young had been an "image of unity and strength", adding: "Hate cannot be responded to with hate, hate can only be responded to with hope".

Addressing the meeting with the motion to create honorary citizens, Sir Richard said those who helped in the aftermath had shown the "spirit of Manchester... of strength and defiance".

He also spoke of the proposed first recipient of the award, Ariana Grande, who had "brought comfort to thousands" when she had returned to the city to perform a benefit concert for those affected by the attack.

He added it would have been "understandable if she never wanted to see this place again".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Floral tributes to those who died filled St Ann's Square in the days after the attack

The motion to create the new award was then passed unanimously, before the meeting was closed by members of the string section of the Halle Orchestra, who performed the song Don't Look Back In Anger.

Mr Newman said the song, by Mancunian rock band Oasis, had come to symbolise the sense of strength and defiance in the city.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Thousands of people have had a Manchester bee tattoo in tribute to those who died
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bees have also been painted on walls across the city as a symbol of solidarity

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