Love is a powerful thing

Following the Manchester Arena bombing in May last year, Oddfellows members have been busy fundraising for the ‘Manchester Emergency Fund’. This charity was set up in the wake of the attack to support bereaved families as well as those who have been injured or traumatised by the events of that fateful evening.

Photo: Young Oddfellow, Niamh Rowan at the Ariana Grande concert 

Many of the attack’s survivors have stories to tell which are both heartbreaking and inspirational. This includes Young Oddfellow Niamh Rowan from the Ormskirk & Southport District who was at the Ariana Grande concert and shares a blog post she has written with us:

"The 22nd May 2017 was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, the day I saw Ariana Grande live in concert. From purchasing the tickets in October (a reward for my A* on science in Year 10 as well as working hard for my GCSEs) I couldn’t contain my excitement in the months that followed. I adore Ariana and to see her live would be an incredible experience. And it was. Until 10.32pm.

In my head I can still hear it, the horrific explosion, the moment of shocked silence and the scream of sheer terror which followed. The scene was chaotic as attendees in the stands fled in all directions in panic.

My mother and I had floor seats and were standing next to the security at the stage barriers at the time. We had gone to retrieve some Ariana ‘Greedy Money’ which had fallen during the performance, as a collectable and a souvenir. I believe this action saved us that night and I will always consider those dollars to be my lucky charms.

So many thoughts raced through our heads. ‘Was it a gun? Was it a bomb? Or, was it simply a giant pink balloon that had burst?’.

None of our questions were answered. “Get on the ground” we were told, so we did, crouched together on the floor of the Manchester Arena, still so very unaware of the exact situation we were in. We can’t have been on the floor for more than five minutes, but the paralysing fear made it feel like an eternity. Eventually we were instructed to leave the arena and joined a crowd exiting the venue who were just as confused and frightened as we were. My phone was flooded with messages of “are you OK?’ and “what’s happened at the arena?”.

I didn’t know exactly what had happened until almost two hours later in the car going home, when a voice on the radio said the words which made my heart drop and sent me into floods of tears: “fatalities confirmed”. I was distraught and utterly heartbroken. I could not comprehend how people who were having the time of their lives just hours earlier now had no time left. I still can’t.

Since this dreadful night, I have fallen more in love with Ariana Grande for her bravery, love and generosity, considering she must be finding it just as difficult (if not more so) to comprehend as any of us. I have fallen more in love with her music too... there are so many lyrics which have inspired strength and hope in me during this difficult time.

I was lucky to attend the One Love Manchester benefit concert on June 4th, which was probably the most amazing night of my life.

Despite the circumstances, it was an incredible show put together by Ariana, and it showed the world that love is the most powerful thing we have and it will always conquer hate. Always.”

Photo: A powerful message left amongst flowers outside Manchester's Town Hall in the wake of the attack

We will be covering the outcome of the Oddfellows fundraising efforts.