The Lord Mayor of Chester led a minute’s silence for Manchester bomb victims observed by fellow dignitaries and Cestrians including relatives of Fusilier Lee Rigby murdered by Islamic extremists.
Lord Mayor Cllr Alex Black welcomed the uncle and aunt of Lee Rigby, from Chester, whose nephew was murdered exactly five years ago to the day.
He addressed those gathered at Town Hall Square after the national minute’s silence at 2.30pm on Tuesday to the mark the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena atrocity which claimed 22 lives following an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.
“Hundreds more were injured and the lives of the friends and family of those who lost loved ones were changed forever,” he said. “We stand here today together to remember them.”
Cllr Black then read out the name of every single person who died including schoolgirl Nell Jones, 14, from Goostrey, Cheshire.
A former police sergeant, the Lord Mayor concluded: “And finally, Elaine McIver, a police officer from Cheshire. On the 14th of July, 2017, mourners lined these very streets for her funeral which was held in Chester Cathedral. None of you will ever be forgotten.
"It is also important to pay tribute to the bravery and compassion of those who helped; to the local people who offered their homes to teenagers who couldn’t find parents; the taxi drivers who spent the night giving concert-goers free lifts across and away from the city; the hotels and Sikh temples opening their doors to protect those fleeing the arena; and our wonderful emergency services, who as ever, performed their jobs with skill, dignity and a calm reassurance to all those affected.
“That night the worst of humanity was met by the best. Cruelty was met with kindness. People needed help and the communities of Manchester came together during the most difficult time imaginable.”
The Lord Mayor continued: “These are things we must not forget. Today though we look ahead with determination, unity and optimism. The city of Chester stands in solidarity with the city of Manchester as we remember the 22 victims that we lost on this day a year ago and the hundreds of people who were injured. Our thoughts go out to them and their families and to everyone who has been affected by terrorism.
“Today we also remember Lee Rigby who five years ago today was tragically killed when he was returning to Woolwich barracks after working at the Tower (of London). Some of Lee’s family are here with us today and welcome.”
Jeremy Dussek, Canon Precentor at Chester Cathedral , who led the prayers, reminded people the Chester Diocese included great swathes of Greater Manchester.
He read a message from Bishop Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport, who talked of the ongoing grief and rallying to the side of those suffering. But Bishop Libby also spoke of the need to unite across our communities and to defy the terrorists who seek to divide us.
The uncle and aunt of Fusilier Lee Rigby, Ray and Diane McClure, from Chester, were present to remember the nephew they lost in the most horrific circumstances.
Mr McClure said: “We were invited yesterday. I’m local to Chester. It’s right that we should remember the victims of the Manchester atrocity but also not forget Lee. We should also remember all the other victims of terrorism too. There’s been an awful lot.”
He ended with this positive message: “We’ve got to remember there’s good in everybody and the good will triumph in the end."