A young survivor of the Manchester Arena bombing said she began to smile again after pop star Ariana Grande visited her in hospital.
Freya Lewis, 15, of Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, was seriously injured in the blast at the end of Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena on May 22 where her friend, Nell Jones, 14, was killed.
The teenager suffered multiple fractures, cuts and burns and was put in an induced coma as surgeons at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital battled to save her life.
Nearly a year later and on the road to recovery, she will continue her staunch fundraising efforts for the hospital by competing in Sunday’s Greater Manchester Run with father Nick.
On Monday, Freya received the accolade of Young Fundraising Hero at the NHS Heroes Awards in London, where she was thrilled to be presented on stage with the award by One Direction star Louis Tomlinson.
Freya, who has already helped raise £40,000 for the hospital, said she is “nervous but quite excited” about tackling this weekend’s run.
She told BBC Breakfast: “I wasn’t even sure I would walk again. They gave so much to me and all of us, so to give something back is the most important thing.
“When I first woke up and everything it was quite terrifying obviously because I was not used to all the injuries I had and I wasn’t sure what I was going to be able to do again.
“I think I definitely thought it would be a lot worse than it is.”
In the early stages of her recovery she was given a major boost when Grande visited her in hospital and lifted the family’s spirits as she watched videos of Freya singing and dancing.
Freya said: “She was the nicest person ever and I just basically started smiling again really from then.
Mr Lewis said: “She was just wonderful and spent 20 minutes with Freya. It was so moving.”
Recalling the evening of May 22, Mr Lewis said: “When they said we are taking you to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital we didn’t even know where the ambulance was taking us and it’s the biggest single site children’s hospital in Europe.
“The care that they gave Freya, they saved her life. But it’s more than that, it’s just a wonderful place and part of us is always going to be there now really. They are wonderful people, wonderful staff, wonderful patients.
“We actually enjoy going there which may sound ridiculous having spent the worst five weeks of our life there but it’s wonderful.”
Freya continues to be a regular visitor to the hospital as an outpatient and will undergo further surgery this year.