Andrew Forgrave, who lives in Ashton Hayes, is a reporter at our sister paper the Daily Post .
He was at the Manchester Arena the night a suicide bomber detonated a device that killed 22 people, having taken his wife Gillian, teenage daughter India and her friend to see Ariana Grande as a birthday treat.
Here he says why the family will be attending the Manchester One Love concert this weekend, less than two weeks after the shocking events.
Should we be going to the Manchester One Love concert? It’s so soon after that terrible night. Victims are still lying in hospital beds and the bereaved will never really recover.
For my daughter, India, it’s part of the healing process. Since walking away from Manchester Arena 12 days ago, her emotions have been put through the ringer. Initially she was quiet, tearful and wary of crowds. At school she struggled to focus on her exams.
After the initial slough of depression she has recovered well, the resilience of the young giving her the strength to carry on. She has even retrieved her binned Ariana Grande concert T-shirt and posters, refusing to be cowed by evil.
My wife Gillian is also mending. Last week she refused to leave the house. Loud noises made her jump. We were only on the periphery of the tragedy but “what if” scenarios kept tormenting her thoughts.
"It's about showing a united front"
Having mused on the ethics of returning to Manchester – for something as trifling as a pop concert – we decided it was an opportunity to confront our demons. And India really wanted to go. It was about showing a united front, she said. She’s just turned 14 and I never cease to be amazed by her determination and principles.
So we signed up for free tickets on Tuesday. There was a section to donate and we did. We were advised to await an emailed confirmation link and, when none arrived, India began to panic: had we given the correct email address?
I applied again, just before the deadline, and the link duly arrived on Thursday. It made me wonder: did we count as one of the “unscrupulous” 10,000 people who made “false” claims for free tickets?
We used the link to book tickets but, as of Friday morning, Ticketmaster is saying they aren’t ready for printing. It’s another reminder of just how hastily the concert has been put together.
Over the past week, we have been in recovery mode. To get Gillian out of the house, we began with dog walks, then trips to the village shop.
On Wednesday, knowing they were (probably) returning to Manchester, Gillian took India into Chester to face the shopping crowds. The acid test.
It nearly backfired. Walking along Eastgate Street, they heard a loud bang and dived for cover. After catching their breath, they realised a busker had dropped his drum. Hearts beating wildly, they carried on, mildly embarrassed by the stares from the crowd.
So we are almost ready for the concert. We know we cannot take backpacks. We know it may rain in the afternoon. We know we may be late getting back, as the traffic implications are horrendous.
"I have no doubt that the memories of that terrible night, and the absence of the dead and injured, will cast a pall over the music."
On Sunday afternoon, just before the tribute concert at the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground, nearby Old Trafford football stadium is hosting Michael Carrick’s testimonial match. Between the two events, more than 100,000 fans are expected. It means that, for concert-goers, the chance of finding a car parking space is near zero.
Public transport is not much better. With no trains running late on Sunday between Chester and Manchester, this option is a non-starter. Metrolink is offering free tram travel to concert-goers on Sunday, and we will probably take up this offer. However the last tram leaves at 10.30pm, right as the concert ends. Will they lay on extra services? We don’t know yet. I’ve told the girls to dispense with the heels and wear “sensible” shoes: we could be in for a long post-concert walk.
Will we enjoy the concert? Probably. India is an avowed Arianator and Gillian is a Take That hippy. But I have no doubt that the memories of that terrible night, and the absence of the dead and injured, will cast a pall over the music, tempered only be the determination of the many to carry on as normal in the face of evil.