A garden created in memory of a schoolgirl killed in the Manchester Arena attack is a “fitting tribute” to a “beautiful person”, her brother has said.
The Garden of Memories was built at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School in Cheshire as a lasting tribute to pupil Nell Jones, 14, who was one of 22 people who died in the attack on May 22 last year.
The memorial was officially opened on Wednesday by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.
He placed a stone decorated with a bee, the symbol of Manchester, in a river of pebbles designed to allow people to leave their memories of Nell in the garden.
Speaking at the opening, her brother Sam, 30, said: “Nell, she would be amazed by this.
This garden proves that out of great tragedy can come a beautiful creation and I’m sure everybody here will agree this is a fitting tribute to a beautiful sister and a beautiful personNell Jones's brother Sam
“People paying this much attention to Nell would astound her, she would be overjoyed.
“The last 12 months have been incredibly difficult but being able to come and see this tangible piece of affection has really helped to carry us through.
“The entire school community, Mr (Denis) Oliver, the management team, the kids, have been so fantastic through all this and without them this would all have been so much more difficult.
“This garden proves that out of great tragedy can come a beautiful creation and I’m sure everybody here will agree this is a fitting tribute to a beautiful sister and a beautiful person.”
The school choir, which Nell had been a member of, sang You Raise Me Up and Hallelujah at the garden opening, which was attended by students, Nell’s family and those who had helped to create the garden.
Freya Lewis, 15, who was injured in the attack after the Ariana Grande concert, was among those of Nell’s friends who had helped with the design.
Mr Burnham said: “We all need to look after this place and I’m sure that the school will cherish this place and ensure it is here for many, many years to come.
“I’m not just here as myself, I am here representing the people of Greater Manchester, representing Greater Manchester Police, the NHS, the councils, everybody actually in Greater Manchester who are, still, as we would say, in recovery from what happened.
“But we were, as you saw, a place that came together and sent a message that actually in the end nothing will divide us, we will always be there for each other and in being here today I wanted to say to Nell’s family that we will always be there for you.
“I think it’s true to say now that Nell will always be a part of Manchester.”
He added: “Good things can come out of terrible events and this garden of remembrance for Nell is the tangible proof of that.
“We can’t let these events change us in any way, we’ve got to continue to move forward, celebrate the good things in life, remember somebody who represented the best of people.”
The school’s executive headteacher Mr Oliver thanked the “thousands” of people who had donated money, time and resources to help create the garden.
He said the garden was “inspired by the loving memory of Nell Jones, but a garden for everyone”.