Wigan bows its head today as it reflects on one of the most unspeakable atrocities ever to be visited on the North West.
Local youngsters and their families were caught up in the bomb blast at the Manchester Arena and its aftermath and our hearts go out to all those affected.
That the suicide bomber chose an event attended by many young people at a moment when parents would be waiting for the youngsters to emerge after an exciting night of music is a new low in sickening depravity.
It makes the Manchester bomb of 21 years ago, when the IRA phoned an advanced warning before devastating a section of the city, seem so different in comparison.
As investigations continue into the circumstances of the tragedy, this is not a time for recriminations.
The borough stands firm with the city down the road and stands defiant in the face of terror. We will not let disgusting crimes against children defeat us.
Wigan Council leader Lord Smith led the tributes in the atrocity’s shocked aftermath.
He said: “Our sympathies go out to the families and friends of those sadly killed and our thoughts and prayers go to those who have been injured.
“The outrage should not be allowed to change our way of life and we should feel gratitude to the caring responses of the public in the immediate aftermath.
“I also want to praise the quick reaction of the emergency services and to medical staff who are treating the injured across eight Greater Manchester hospitals.
“Our town will emerge stronger from this cowardly terrorist attack with our values of community and caring undiminished.”
Former Leigh MP and new Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham said the attack was an “evil act” that had caused anger, shock and hurt.
He added: “It is hard to put into words the shock, anger, and hurt that we feel.
“These were children, young people and their families that those responsible chose to terrorise and kill. This was an evil act.”
He offered his support to the families of the victims, and paid tribute to locals who had opened their doors to strangers and offered shelter to those fleeing the Manchester Arena and evacuated areas.
Mr Burnham said this was the “best possible message to those who seek to divide us”, and would be the prevailing spirit of Manchester.