A Western Isles mother told how she heard an enormous explosion and her world was “torn apart” as her teenage daughter died in the Manchester Arena bombing, the public inquiry into the terror attack heard.
Marion MacLeod had arrived outside the arena to collect her daughter Eilidh, 14, and her friend who had been to the Ariana Grande concert.
Mrs MacLeod, from Barra in the Outer Hebrides, had travelled south with her daughter, a music lover and bagpipe player, staying over in a hotel in Manchester close to the Arena.
‘The ground shook’
Her daughter, the middle one of three sisters, was “beyond excited” to be attending the event, Mrs MacLeod said in a statement read to the inquiry, the pair using Facetime and swapping messages during the show.
Mrs MacLeod said: “She was loving life and I told her to sing her heart out and dance the night away.
“I told that I would be there to collect her later and that I loved her.”
Later she went to meet her daughter and her friend when the show was due to finish.
She added: “As I left our hotel I messaged Eilidh asking if the concert was over and she messaged back saying it was the last song.
“It was 10.29pm. I was just about at the corner across the road from the Arena where I told Eilidh I would be waiting for them when I heard an enormous explosion.
“The ground shook and that was when our whole world was torn apart.”
A memorial trust has since been established in Eilidh’s name to help others in Barra to enjoy the teenager’s love of music and life.
‘She enriched the lives of many’
Eilidh entered the City Room, the foyer to the Arena, at 10.30pm at the end of the show.
Suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his device a minute later with Eilidh standing just four metres away.
A post-mortem examination and reports from bomb blast wave experts and pathology reports all concluded Eilidh’s injuries were not survivable.
Sir John Saunders, chairman of the inquiry said: “Eilidh lived on the beautiful island of Barra and the beauty of the surroundings where she was brought up shone out in her personality.
“She enriched the lives of many.”
The inquiry, sitting in Manchester, is look at how and in what circumstances each of the 22 victims died on May 22 2017, and to probe whether any inadequacies in the emergency response contributed to individual deaths and/or if they could have been prevented.
The hearing continues.