Manchester terror attack: Friendship forged at concert helps Sheffield schoolgirls through trauma

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A friendship forged amid the devastation of the Manchester terror attack has helped two girls from Sheffield come to terms with the trauma.

Ariana Grande fans Amelia Thompson, aged 11, and 10-year-old Ruby Crookes Carr had never met before the night of the deadly bombing at Manchester Arena, where they had been watching their idol in action.

Amelia Thompson and Ruby Crookes Carr with flowers they left in tribute to those killed in the Manchester terror attack

Amelia Thompson and Ruby Crookes Carr with flowers they left in tribute to those killed in the Manchester terror attack

But the youngsters and their parents have since formed a special bond which the families say gave them the strength to confront their demons and attend the One Love Manchester benefit concert.

Lisa Newton, from Dronfield, just outside Sheffield, was at the original gig on May 22 with her daughter Amelia when they got talking to Ruby and her mum Vanessa, from Malin Bridge, Hillsborough.

They arranged to meet afterwards and share a taxi but their plans were thrown into disarray when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his device close to where they had agreed to gather, killing 22 people.

Thankfully, Amelia, Ruby and their mothers escaped injury that night but the horrors they witnessed left them severely shaken.

Having fled the arena, Lisa told how she and Amelia could not rest until they knew what had happened to Vanessa, who works at Sheffield Children's Hospital, and her daughter.

They were reunited following an appeal on BBC Radio Sheffield and the foursome have quickly become bosom buddies and a great source of comfort to one another during such a tough time.

The families travelled together to Sunday's benefit concert, which Lisa described as a 'fantastic' evening.

"The whole concert and ending it off the way they did has helped Amelia so much. It's been amazing for her and for Ruby, who were holding hands that night," said Lisa.

"They couldn't have attended that concert without one another and I couldn't have done it without Vanessa. I was like a nervous wreck but she was my rock.

"We just seem to have clicked and we will be friends for life after this."

Lisa told how Amelia is a massive Ariana Grande fan and the original concert had been a special treat following a tough couple of years, during which Amelia had lost her uncle Haydn to cancer and her father Wayne had two heart attacks and underwent heart surgery.

She said her daughter had suffered a severe panic attack on the night of the bombing, where she saw the dead and wounded lying on the ground, and had barely spoken since then - until Sunday.

Before the benefit concert, Amelia, Ruby and their mums visited Manchester Arena where they laid 22 flowers close to the entrance - one for every victim of the bombing.

"Amelia cried for the first time on Sunday and actually spoke about what happened. She and Amelia met some lads who had also been there on the night of the attack and really took the girls under their wing," said Lisa.

"It's helped Amelia come to terms with what happened. She was crying and she turned around and said to me 'I'm doing this for the 22 people who died'."

After the latest London terror attacks on Saturday, Lisa said they had been having second thoughts about attending the benefit concert but the families decided together they 'didn't want to be dictated to by the terrorists'.

Lisa said there was an incredible atmosphere at Sunday's concert and that spirit spilled over into an impromptu after-party at a McDonald's, in Hyde, where the families stopped on their way home.

Amelia and Ruby joined a handful of strangers in the restaurant car park by breaking into dance, as captured on video by Pippa Wooltorton.

Pippa, who also attended the benefit concert, praised the girls' bravery and said watching them and other strangers strut their stuff had 'made my night'.

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