Harry returns to scene of Manchester bomb attack

Harry Shillito (right) with pal Tom Miller after completing cycle ride to Manchester Arena.
Harry Shillito (right) with pal Tom Miller after completing cycle ride to Manchester Arena.

A man who was just yards from where a bomb was detonated at the Manchester Arena during a concert last year has returned to the venue for the first time since that night.

Twenty-two people were killed and more than 500 were injured when a suicide bomber struck at the end of the Ariana Grande gig in May.

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Former Ossett High School student Harry Shillito was about 20 metres from the explosion but escaped injury.

The 21-year-old wanted to raise funds for those affected by the bombing and so completed a 50-mile sponsored cycle ride from his home in Dewsbury to the arena on Saturday with his friend Tom Miller.

Harry said: “I found the ride both mentally and physically challenging at times.

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“Especially when riding through the Pennines, plenty of hills.

“I was extremely nervous about returning back to the Manchester Arena, I believe it was something I needed to do, to overcome my fear of ever going back.

“I feel a lot better now I’ve faced and completed the challenge and hoping one day I might be able to attend another concert there.”

He managed to raise more than £1,000, with half of the cash going to an emergency fund to help those injured in the attack, with the rest going towards a permanent memorial fund.

Harry told the Express that the events of May 22 still affect him every day.

He had waited months to see the American singer live in concert, but the evening turned into a nightmare at the end of the show when people began to leave the 21,000-seater venue.

The bomb was detonated in the foyer, which Harry described as being the loudest noise he’d ever heard.

Once the smoke began to clear, he described it as like “something from a horror film”.

He was able to get out of the building with his partner Chloe and run to safety.

In the days after the bombing he said: “I don’t understand how I’m still alive and not hurt, I’m absolutely heartbroken.”

An independent report out this week into the bombing praised the emergency services, despite being stretched by the sheer number of casualties.

However, Vodafone was heavily criticised for a “catastrophic failure” of an emergency help line which led to delays being relayed to worried families.