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Manchester Arena victims remembered in emotional day

A one-minute silence, observed nationwide, was held to mark the first anniversary with thousands watching on a big screen in nearby Cathedral Gardens.

Manchester came together in an emotional day of remembrance and an evening of solidarity through music to mark the first anniversary of the terror attack which claimed the lives of 22 people.

Some 800 people attended an afternoon national commemoration service at Manchester Cathedral, including families or friends of the victims and also survivors of the May 22 suicide bombing.

They were joined by front-line responders and volunteers who helped in the tragic aftermath of the end of last year’s Ariana Grande concert.

A one-minute silence – observed nationwide – was held at 2.30pm with tears inside the cathedral during the invitation-only service and outside, where thousands watched on a big screen in nearby Cathedral Gardens.

Photographs of those who died in the bombing were displayed on screens in the cathedral shortly before the silence.

Twenty-two lit candles on the altar represented each one of the victims, which were made using wax from the thousands of candles left in St Ann’s Square in their memory last May.

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A member of the clergy lights candles for the victims (Paul Ellis/PA)

Among the dignitaries who were present were the Duke of Cambridge, Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council.

Prince William and the Prime Minister privately met bereaved families at the cathedral following the service.

Before William left the city he attached a note to one of the Trees of Hope, a trail of small Japanese maple trees from Victoria Station to St Ann’s Square, to add to the many thousands of similar messages of support and hope left by members of the public.

The Duke wrote: “To all those affected you will never be forgotten.

“And to the people of Manchester my admiration for your display of strength, decency and community in the face of this unparalleled tragedy. William.”

Mrs May also left a message which read: “Today we hold in our hearts the memory of those who were lost on the 22nd May 2017, their families, friends and those whose lives were irrevocably changed.

“May the kindness and fortitude we witnessed that night triumph and the great spirit of Manchester never be vanquished.”

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The Duke of Cambridge leaves a message on a ‘Tree of Hope’ (Paul Ellis/PA)

Later, up to 15,000 people packed into Albert Square in the early evening to listen to around 2,800 singers from local choirs at the Manchester Together – With One Voice event.

Among those performing were the Manchester Survivors Choir, a group made up of people who were at the arena on the night of the fateful concert, and Parrs Wood High School’s Harmony Group, whose post-attack tribute went viral last year.

Survivors Choir member Cath Hill told the audience: “We are showing Manchester and the world that we carry on.

“It is so important for us to be together. We are here to look after each other, care for each other and to be positive and move forward.”

They sang Rise Up by Andra Day before they held aloft 22 candles.

Poet Tony Walsh returned to Albert Square where last May he read his poem This Is The Place at the public vigil to widespread acclaim.

Walsh encouraged the crowd to make a minute’s noise for the 22, those injured in the blast, for the first responders, NHS staff involved in the care of those affected and “for Manchester and its spirit and its amazing people”.

As the crowd responded, Walsh shouted: “This is what love sounds like. You can’t stop the sound of love.”

A mass 30-minute communal singalong finale brought the event to a crescendo with performances of Don’t Look Back In Anger by Oasis, One Day Like This by Elbow, Grande’s One Last Time, Never Forget by Take That and finally The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love.

On May 22 last year, Salman Abedi, 22, detonated a device at the end of the Grande concert with 353 people, including 175 children, around him in the foyer of the venue.

A total of 22 people were killed and more than 800 others were either physically or psychologically injured.

At 10.31pm, bells rang out from the city’s Town Hall, St Ann’s Church and St Mary’s RC Church to mark the moment when the attack took place 12 months ago.

Hundreds gathered in St Ann’s Square and fell silent as the bells chimed.

When the last bell rang the crowd broke into applause and cheers, with some hugging each other in tears.

Similar to last May, candles were lit in the square around floral tributes and balloons.

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