One year ago, we lost 22 of our own.
I watched it all unfold from Colombia and felt an overwhelming strangeness, seeing the people of my city rise so fast from such a hard hit warmed my heart as much as the attack had broken it, not being able to be there standing in solidarity in the face of adversity I felt helpless, as I’m sure every single Mancunian not at home did.
I found solace in the fact that being a Mancunian is a lot more than just a postcode on an envelope, we look after our own around here. And it is just that spirit that allows each and every one of us, black or white, rich or poor, to do our bit.
One year ago, we lost 22 of our own. We will carry each and every one of them in our hearts forever, 22 people who in many parts of the world would have become nothing, in Manchester will become everything. In our hearts each and every one of them will live and love; they will explore the oceans of the world, they will become doctors and nurses, they will build houses and railways, they will split atoms and sew wounds, they will dance all night at 5th Avenue and they will risk the walk home from the Star and Garter, they will drink in the morning sun and they will shake off a heavy one, they will watch the shirkers and schemers on Piccadilly Gardens from their office window, they will protect and serve, they will sing songs of Cantona and sing songs of Kinkladze, from nothing they will become everything inside each and every one of us.
Beautiful little Saffie Rose Roussos will grow and she will flourish, she will live a million lives through us all, she will get to enjoy that one perfect day of summer in Manchester every year, where the girls shine by the canals and every pub stool is out in the street.
Martyn Hett who showed so much promise in life, in death will outlive us all, he will become that charming man, that rock n roll star, torn apart by love and become the resurrection.
Alison Howe and Lisa Lees will raise their children, they will raise all of our children, they will race boats at Heaton Park and solve the unsolvable puzzles at the Museum of Science and Industry.
This community round here is the envy of the world, it has taken tragedy to illuminate it, but still it endures. Lets raise a glass to those affected, and two fingers to those that test our resolve. I have seen Manchester rise and fall before, but this time last year, as an observer so far from home, I had never been so proud of you all.
Manchester, I love you.