Wigan student who survived Manchester Arena terror attack remembers victims on fourth anniversary

A Wigan student who survived the Manchester Arena terror attack hopes people will remember the victims today and not just how they died.

Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 4:55 am
Millie Tomlinson
Millie Tomlinson

Millie Tomlinson was just 17 when the bomb exploded metres away from her on May 22, 2017.

To mark the fourth anniversary today, she will honour those who lost their lives in the attack.

Millie, from Beech Hill, said: “I do think it’s important, not just because it’s a day we should remember, but because people should remember the victims. I think that’s important because remembering them on the day is something special.

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“We shouldn’t remember them because of what happened, we should remember them as people.”

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Wigan student speaks about surviving Manchester Arena terror attack ahead of fou...

Instead, she will meet the Survivors’ Choir in Manchester and then go for a meal with friend Lucy Jarvis, who was with her at the Ariana Grande concert, and her family.

Millie then plans to spend the evening with her mum, her girlfriend Caitlin McNeil and her family. Caitlin also survived the attack and they met while filming a documentary about it.

In May 2017, Millie was studying an animal management course and looking forward to the concert after watching Ariana Grande on a television show while she was growing up.

But it would be a night that would change her life, as Millie was injured when the bomb was detonated.

She said: “I had several injuries on my leg. I had a really deep one on my left leg and three fingers on my left hand had been severed, nearly cut off all the way.

“I had surgery on my leg and my hand. I also had to go to physiotherapy for a year with my hand because I couldn’t do anything with it. I couldn’t even cut my own food.”

Millie only spent a day in hospital, as her stepmother is a district nurse and was able to change her bandages at home.

She has made a good recovery from her physical injuries, with her hand almost back to normal now.

But the terror attack also affected Millie mentally and she admits she felt numb for some time, struggling to process what had happened.

She said: “I wasn’t dealing with it. I was very numb and I became very argumentative towards my mum because of it.

“ I was very angry towards myself for surviving and I didn’t know why I wasn’t as injured as other people and I felt bad about that.”

Millie sought help from several counsellors, which has made a big difference,.

She now knows her triggers and how to manage them, and plans to see another counsellor soon as she struggles with the anniversary of the attack.

She praised her friends and family for their support since the incident, describing them as “amazing”.

She is now looking to the future and is in her first year of a degree in television and radio at Salford University.

Moving from Wigan to Salford and progressing with her studies has given Millie a big boost.

She said: “I can’t believe I have come to uni because it’s something I thought I would never do. I’m glad I made the decision to move in to uni because it’s made me a stronger person. I was so ready to move on.”

Millie hopes to become a presenter one day, perhaps following in the footsteps of Stacey Dooley by making documentaries on tough subjects.

Millie decided to talk about her experiences in a new podcast by BBC Radio Manchester.

Manchester Arena Bomb - Stories of Hope is a four-part series presented by Radio 1 presenter Katie Thistleton to mark the fourth anniversary of the terror attack.

As well as sharing her experiences of that night and what has happened since, she meets Louise Murray, whose brother Martyn Hett was killed in the blast, and finds out how she has moved forward with her life.

Millie said: “I thought it might help someone in a similar situation, not even with the bomb but in a similar situation who feels survivors’ guilt. They might listen and think it’s not just them and they can get through it.”

The series tells the stories of just some of the hundreds of people who were left injured and psychologically affected by what happened in Manchester that night.

Manchester Arena Bomb - Stories of Hope is available via BBC Sounds and the BBC’s website.

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