‘A gesture of true kindness we will always remember.’
Those are the heartfelt words of a Halifax mum who was caught up in the horrific Manchester terror attack with her 12-year-old daughter, after taxi firm Crossleys offered to take the pair to and from the One Love concert free of charge.
Joanna Helliwell’s daughter Grace, a Trinity Academy pupil, is a huge fan of Ariana Grande and had been counting down the days to last month’s concert after getting tickets as a Christmas present.
But what should have been a night to remember turned to tragedy when 22-year-old Salman Abedi detonated a home-made device, killing 22 people as they left the show at the Manchester Arena. The pair were left stranded in the city and had to pay £80 for a taxi to get back home to Halifax.
Miss Helliwell, 33, from Boothtown, said: “We have had a very tough two weeks and when the free tickets for the One Love Manchester concert were released I was very unsure about attending.
“But when Grace saw the line up there was no way she was going to miss out on this event.”
Miss Helliwell called Crossleys, the firm she always uses, to arrange a taxi to the event and said a driver called Mahmood Mohammed answered the phone and asked if he could call her back in 10 minutes.
She said: “Mahmood called me back and told me him his partner and family members were also attending the concert and he had spoken to his boss at Crossleys and had been given the OK to pick me and my daughter up from home, take us there with his family and bring us home free of charge. I was blown away by this act of kindness.
“Mahmood and his family then invited us in to a family member’s home who lives in Manchester, took us to the memorial flowers, then invited us to join them for some food before the concert.
“His wife Julia and their lovely daughters and son were very supportive when we arrived at the venue. My nerves started to kick in and they assured me it would be fine and walked us to our entrance gate. They waited outside for us and kept hold of us when getting the tram back into Manchester, like we were part of their family.”
Miss Helliwell said she wanted to share her story to show that there are “still good people out there to support each other”.
“Me and Grace feel elated and have found peace in the event that happened yesterday,” she said. “The unity of people and the kindness of others has restored our faith in good and we now again believe good will always win over evil.”
Concert-goers began queueing outside Lancashire Cricket Club’s Old Trafford ground from 8.30am ahead of the One Love Manchester gig yesterday (Sunday).
The event saw the US popstar return to the stage for the first time since the attack. All Grande fans who attended the gig on May 22 were offered free passes to the benefit concert.
Ahead of the concert Grande’s fans who were caught up in the Manchester bombing said they were nervous to return to a concert so soon after recent terror attacks but determined to carry on to show solidarity with the victims.
Proceeds from the concert will go towards the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, set up by Manchester City Council in partnership with the British Red Cross, to support grieving families and victims of the bombing. An event will be held in Halifax next month to help victims of the Manchester attack and their families.
Clothing company Pretty Parade has teamed up with McFly’s, Commercial Street, to host the Fashion, Fun and Cocktails event on July 1.
The company’s latest collection will be available to buy, with exclusive discounts on the day, and there will also be a raffle and live entertaintment.