Mourners gather for funeral of youngest Manchester Arena attack victim
Mourners have begun gathering for the funeral of Saffie Rose Roussos, the youngest victim of the Manchester Arena bombing.
Dozens of people each carrying a single rose in her memory - a request from the family - have arrived at the city's Cathedral to pay their last respects and celebrate the short life of the eight-year-old.
A single Mass card showing a smiling photo of Saffie was handed to mourners, bearing the message: "We would like to thank you for being here today with us and for all your love & support. The Roussos family."
They had invited anyone touched by her death to attend the service, two months on from the Arena attack, and a steady stream of people began filling the Cathedral from mid-morning onwards.
Canon Marca Walls from Manchester Cathedral told Premier all funerals are specials but Saffie’s definitely pulls on the heartstrings.
She said: “Safe Rose ‘s funeral is particularly special, one because she was only 8 years old and died in such tragic and horrible circumstances.
“It will be a sad day it will bring good memories. I hope that they will leave inspired by her life. She was such a vibrant little girl.”
Saffie was among the throng of elated youngsters leaving Manchester Arena after the Ariana Grande concert, after receiving tickets as a Christmas present from her parents, when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his home-made bomb packed with nuts and bolts.
She died from multiple injuries along with 21 others, seven of them aged under 18.
Today Saffie's mother, 48 year old Lisa Roussos, who was gravely injured herself, and father, 43 year old Andrew, will lead mourners, along with Saffie's brother, Xander, and step-sister, Ashlee Bromwich, who was also injured.
The cortege will leave from Wythenshawe Hospital, where Mrs Roussos is still receiving treatment for her injuries.
Mr Roussos, from Leyland, Lancashire, has described his daughter as a girl who wanted to be famous and loved the limelight, singing and dancing in excitement as she counted the days down to seeing her pop idol performing in Manchester.
Canon Marcia Walls told Premier Saffie’s funeral not only symbolises and end to the laying of the victims to rest, but also a time to look forward in hope.
She said: “It is like a book turning a page. We are going to close the Book of condolence on Sunday.
“People can look forward and remember their loved ones that have died in such tragic circumstances and be inspired by their lives.”
Canon Marcia Walls told Premier since the bombing Manchester has seen a lot of unity, generosity and compassion especially within faith communities. She encouraged Christians to continue to lift all those affected in their prayers.
She said: “The family has lost a child and that’s a hard thing to go through. Pray for them to keep the good memories, to remember the joy that she brought in their lives. Pray for the mum who is still recovering from injuries. Pray for the family that they have strength.”