Another star in the sky Eight pink balloons one for each year

first_imgWhat should have been a happy occasion for mothers and their daughters turned into a killing fieldBishop John Goddard Saffie was a pupil at Tarleton Community Primary School in Lancashire. Her distraught schoolmates and teachers remembered her as a bright, if shy, and precocious girl. She was a member of the school council and the 1st Tarleton Brownies.  At 6pm on Tuesday – 24 hours after Saffie and her fellow concert goers walked into the Manchester Arena – the devastated community of Tarleton gathered in Mark Square, a shopping precinct in the centre of the Lancashire village normally utilised for Christmas concerts and carol singing.On Tuesday night they came for an unimaginably more painful purpose, to remember Saffie and the first named victim of the attack, 18-year-old Georgina Callander who in a cruel twist of fate lived in the neighbouring village of Hesketh Bank.While Saffie’s family did not attend, Georgina’s mother Leslie Callander walked into the centre of the vigil to lay the first flower. She clutched a grey blanket and was visibly trembling with grief before returning to be consoled by family members. The crowd broke into spontaneous applause at her bravery. Flowers are being left in the centre of Tarleton in memory of Saffie Roussos & others killed last night in #Manchester #c4news— Andy Davies (@adavies4) May 23, 2017 Among the throng of youngsters heading into the Manchester Arena on Monday evening was an eight-year-old girl, her brown hair brushed and wearing her favourite white Ariana Grande t-shirt.Like the many thousands of smiling faces around her, Saffie-Rose Roussos was at the concert to see her idol, and braced for one of the most exciting nights of her young life. She was accompanied by her mother, Lisa, and 26-year-old step sister Ashlee.A few hours later, as they walked out together through the concert foyer on their way home, a suicide bomb blast violently tore this happy family apart forever. Lisa, 48, and Ashlee were hit by some of the pieces of shrapnel that had been deliberately packed into the home-made device to inflict maximum chaos and terror, and rushed to two different hospitals in Greater Manchester. A vigil also took place in Albert Square, ManchesterCredit:Kirsty Wigglesworth /AP Tarleton resident Zoe Evans attended the vigil with her two young sons aged 12 and 14. “It is beyond heartbreaking and I still cannot comprehend how a young person like Saffie could go to a concert and just not come home,” she said. “I just cannot put it into words.”Saffie’s Brownie leader Tracey Radcliffe remembered Saffie as an “adorable and loveable girl who was just lovely”. Her daughter Jade Radcliffe, 15, added: “There is fantastic community spirit here and we will all go to bed tonight holding our loved ones a little tighter.  Saffie, bright-eyed with a wide smile and described by her teachers as “a beautiful little girl in every sense of the word”, was lost in the chaos.It was only Tuesday morning, after desperate family and friends had been appealing for information on her whereabouts all through the night, that her death was confirmed – the youngest of the 22 victims who went to a concert and never came home.  Saffie’s family was not present at the vigil and it is understood Lisa lived with her daughter in the nearby town of Leyland. Saffie’s father, Andrew Roussos, has Cypriot citizenship and married her mother in 2004. Her parents run a fish and chip shop in Leyland which last night had flowers laid at the door. After the crowd of around 1,000 residents observed a two-minute silence in tribute to both of the girls, eight pink balloons – one for each year of Saffie’s life – were released into the blue cloudless sky as the Ariana Grande song Put Your Hearts Up was played on a loudspeaker. Monday night’s concert also concluded with a barrage of pink balloons being released before the house lights came on and the crowd was rocked by the huge explosion which eyewitnesses say caused a stampede in the venue to get to safety.Bishop John Goddard, who led the vigil wearing his purple robes and carrying a crook, told the crowd: “What should have been a happy occasion for mothers and their daughters turned into a killing field.” He added: “The enjoyment of these family sharing together in the music was turned into an abhorrent and evil cacophony.”During the service, Saffie’s classmates, most still wearing their uniform of red polo shirt and grey shorts, were asked by Bishop Goddard to step forward into the square. Many linked arms and held hands in an unconscious display of strength. One of the organisers of the vigil was Simon Martindale, who has children at Tarleton Community Primary. Eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos was with her mother at the concertCredit:PA Like others in the village, he described himself as “heartbroken” to hear of Saffie’s death.Shelley Brunkhuissen, 34, who lives in the village and whose son Jamie was in Saffie’s Year 4 class, was among those laying flowers at the vigil.“No parent should ever have to deal with losing a child in such circumstances,” she said. “What can you say to your child about why there is suddenly an empty seat in the classroom?”Jamie, nine, described with a maturity beyond his years how teachers broke the news to individual classes at Tarleton Community Primary one-by-one morning. Counsellors were also on hand to talk to the pupils individually about what had taken place. “Saffie was really nice and smiley and had lots of friends,” Jamie said. “Everybody is really upset.” Eight-year-old Saffie Roussos was with her mother at the concert In a statement released earlier in the day after Saffie’s death was confirmed, Chris Upton, head teacher at the school, described her as “quiet and unassuming with a creative flair” and that her “warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly.” Her death, he said, was “heartbreaking” for everybody involved with the school. A vigil also took place in Albert Square, Manchester Several bunches of flowers were left outside the school gates in tribute to Saffie which on Tuesday afternoon was guarded by several policemen.A note left on one bouquet read: “RIP Saffie, our heart goes out to all your family and friends”.Long after the vigil had concluded, shocked parents also continued to add their bouquets to the pile of flowers in Mark Square. On one teddy bear was a message that attempted to make sense of the most brutal of killings.“Saffie Rose, a beautiful angel another star in the sky”, it read. “RIP little one. Shine brightly. Sleep tight.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img