Local student’s lucky escape from suicide bomb


Tara Connolly and Hannah Wallbank were in Manchester Arena at the time of the attack

 “I DON’T think anyone in the Arena felt sure they were going to make it out alive,” said a local woman who was in the Manchester Arena last Monday night, when the horrific attack that killed 22 people, and injured over 50 was carried out.
Tara Connolly (21), from Carrybridge has lived in York for the past three years completing her Occupational Therapy degree at York St John University. Tara and her friend Hannah got concert tickets to celebrate the end of their studies. A few minutes after Ariana Grande’s encore, Tara noticed that something was not right as a silence fell over the large crowd.
“The lights had only been on for a matter of seconds before the Arena was shook by an enormous bang – the entire place froze and everyone went silent. After just a few seconds everyone was screaming. Myself and Hannah were careful to stay together and had to climb over rows of chairs to get out and made our way out without losing each other among the chaos.”
“I’ve never experienced fear like it. The faces of everyone turned from smiling to absolute terror in seconds. People were clinging to one another and crying, expressing fear they were going to die. The hardest thing was seeing how many kids were so scared and didn’t even know what was going on,” explained Tara.
Despite the chaos, Tara and Hannah witnessed first hand the kindness of the people of Manchester where they found themselves stranded  because trains were cancelled.
“A girl called Renee came out of her flat and offered us to come in for a cup of tea. When we explained the trains were cancelled so we were stranded, she immediately got us pyjamas and set up her spare bedroom insisting we stayed the night. She was a perfect stranger who treated us like family. We stayed until we had a lift home organised, and she made us breakfast and did all she could to make us feel at home.”
Tara and Hannah were extremely lucky to escape unharmed, but the scenes they witnessed last Monday night, will stay with them forever. 
“We made it out of there together, unharmed while so many others are lost or injured and so many were so cruelly killed. A matter of minutes could have changed everything for us. We will never forget the fear we felt or the hatred attached to his horrible attack – but we will also never forget the kindness we were shown and the acts of kindness shown across the city.”


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