Today, Sunday May 22nd, marks five years since the devastating Manchester Arena attack.
As concert-goers streamed out of the arena in the wake of an Ariana Grande concert, a suicide bomber detonated a homemade device, claiming the lives of twenty-two people – many of them children – and injuring hundreds more.
The unprecedented attack was the UK’s worst terror attack since the 7/7 bombings and, today, still stands as one of Manchester’s darkest days.
But out of the heartbreak, devastation and sorrow, Liv’s Trust was born.
One of the people to die in the attack was fifteen-year-old Olivia Campbell-Hardy, a talented teenager from Bury with the dream of one day becoming a music teacher.
In the wake of her death and struggling to come to terms with the tragedy, Olivia’s dad Andrew Hardy and her grandparents Steve and Sharon Goodman channeled their grief into the launch of a fundraising charity in her honour, which they later christened Liv’s Trust.
Staying true to its motto, ‘We Choose Love’, the foundation is dedicated to Olivia’s passion for the performing arts, and funds education, music and dance for under twenty-fives across Greater Manchester in the hope that others can achieve the dreams Olivia once had.
And, in the near five years since its launch, Liv’s Trust has not only helped countless people achieve their dreams in the arts, it has given Olivia’s grandad Steve a reason and a drive to carry on each day.
Speaking to Proper Manchester, Steve said: “Liv’s Trust gives me a reason to get up every day, and to keep working for it.
“Sharon and I are struggling a bit with the anniversary coming up, but the charity is helping us to have a bit of focus, and helping us to take our minds off of things.”
Since its launch, Liv’s Trust has helped people through a variety of different means, whether it be with the financial costs for teaching qualifications or by funding music lessons for schools and for children with additional or behavioural needs.
It has also contributed to travel costs for dance schools to take pupils to competitions, and has even paid for individual people to compete and fulfil their dreams, including one young woman with a dream to play the clarinet.
The woman, a student at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), had her travel costs to London covered by the charity, which enabled her to eventually achieve her dream qualification.
Now that student has her Masters degree in the Clarinet and is teaching music, ‘just like Olivia had wanted to’, Steve noted.
And more recently, the trust extended a helping hand to a young Ukrainian refugee by arranging breakdancing lessons, a hobby he had pursued back in his home country before Russia’s invasion.
Steve explained: “After he moved into our community, someone asked if we could help him get some dance lessons here so he can continue with his training… It’s helped him massively with settling into our community and his new life.”
Though Liv’s Trust wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of its patrons and ambassadors, who all work tirelessly to keep Olivia’s legacy and memory alive.
One of those ambassadors is sixteen-year-old Amelia Thompson, a Derbyshire schoolgirl who survived the devastating attack on that fateful night.
Amelia was invited to the launch of Liv’s Trust and, after meeting Steve and Sharon became the charity’s ambassador where, for nearly five years, she has tirelessly raised money for the cause – last year, she even took part in a charity skydive, raising over £1,400 for the trust.
Speaking of what the charity means to her, Amelia said: “I think it’s so important to continue being a young ambassador because it’s so important to carry on Olivia’s legacy and to keep the memory and the spirits of the twenty-two alive.
“People should never forget the lives that were lost that night.”
Five years on from the attack, Amelia admits that while she still struggles, Liv’s Trust has helped with her recovery and treatment.
She explained: “It does get hard around this time of the year and around the anniversary. It plays on my mind a lot more than it usually would.
“But Liv’s Trust has definitely helped me with my recovery, and doing my own fundraising for the twenty-two has helped massively, too.
“It’s trying to make something positive out of something that was so so negative.”
On the future of Liv’s Trust, Steve added: “We just want to keep on how we’re going and keeping it family-run.
“We never expected to be as big as we are, so to be able to help hundreds of people the way we have has given us that reason to get up in the morning.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to help somebody, especially in a way that was close to Olivia’s heart.”
For more information on Liv’s Trust, its mission and how you can get involved, visit its official website here.
FORGOTTEN MANCHESTER: The rise and fall of Tommy Ducks
From coffins as tables and knickers stapled to ceiling, there wasn’t a lot that didn’t happen at Tommy Ducks…
Out of all of Manchester’s weird and wonderful institutions, the legacy of Tommy Ducks remains today as one of the all-time greats.
But what exactly happened to this infamous boozer?
Tommy Ducks stood proudly down what is now Lower Mosely Street, and is known to have roots dating all the way back to the 1800s.
While it is widely believed that it was originally named The Prince’s Tavern, the pub underwent a name change at some point in the 1870s after its egotistical landlord Thomas Duckworth wanted to name it after himself.
But rumour has it that the painter-decorator hired to replace the pub’s sign either ran out of paint and supplies or found he didn’t have enough room to fit in the full name, so improvised and come up with the name Tommy Ducks, instead.
Of course, there’s no solid evidence for this mishap actually happening, but it is certainly one of the more believable rumours about the pub’s namesake.
Anyway, the pub settled with its abbreviated name and went on to quietly serve the good people of Manchester throughout the 1900s.
But then the 1970’s arrived, and Tommy Ducks started to gain a different kind of reputation, with it quickly becoming one of the most sought after boozers in the city – quite the accomplishment considering it was stood in the middle of a recently-demolished estate.
One of the pubs more popular legacies is its makeshift tables – for reasons unbeknown to most Mancunians today, someone had the bright idea of using glass-topped coffins as tables, one of which was kidnapped by a rival pub for a while.
One of the coffins even featured a skeleton, which many people were adamant was a real one.
Tommy Ducks was also renown for having ladies knickers and bras stapled to the ceiling above the bar, with female punters allegedly been invited to remove their undies upon arrival (yes, before their first drink!).
The pub played home to these kind of shenanigans for the next couple of decades and, by the 1990s, it was one of the last standing buildings in the area, which lay in ruin following a mass demolishment.
However, in 1993 the pub’s temporary preservation order – arranged by punters and supporters back in the 1970s – expired, plunging its future into uncertainty and doubt.
Greenalls Brewery, which ran the pub, was also coming under increasing pressure by fat cat developers to sell up and shut shop.
Tragially, the temporary preservation order expired on a Friday, meaning that the council offices were closed for the weekend. And because the order couldn’t be renewed until Monday morning, demolition began in the early hours of Saturday.
While Greenalls was eventually fined £150,000 for their act of destruction, it was still too late – Tommy Ducks and its abundance of coffins and bras was gone forever.
It’s 26 years since the devastating IRA bomb and the people of Manchester are still waiting for justice
Why was no one ever arrested for the attack on our city?
Twenty-six years ago on this date, Manchester fell victim to one of the biggest bombs ever exploded in the United Kingdom.
It was a beautiful, unusually sunny morning in Manchester on June 15th, 1996 – England were about to take on Scotland in Euro ‘96, football fans were swarming the city centre for the next day’s Russia v Germany fixture at nearby Old Trafford, and the Arndale Shopping Centre – built just twenty years prior – was heaving with weekend shoppers.
However, the festivities of the warm summer’s day were all set to change when a security guard on the other side of the city received an anonymous tip off.
Sometime after 9:38am, Gary Hall – a security guard at ITV’s Granada Studios – took a phone call from a man with a ‘very calm’ Irish voice, as per The BBC.
The anonymous man went on to inform Gary that he had planted a bomb in the city centre and it would be exploding in one hour. Following the phone call, the police were immediately notified and they sprung to action locating the bomb and evacuating 80,000 people from the area.
However, this proved to be quite the task. At first, people were not keen to go; it was the 1990s and Mancunians had become seasoned to bomb scares.
One hairdresser allegedly refused to let his clients leave because they still had chemicals in their hair, arguing it would be ‘too dangerous.’ Alternatively, a group of workmen wanted to stay put because they were on weekend rates.
Slowly, though, the severity of the situation began to sink in, and authorities were able to successfully evacuate the centre, with some people screaming and running for their lives.
Amid the chaos, police spotted a stationary white lorry parked on double yellows outside of Marks & Spencer with wires running from its dashboard. A bomb squad was swiftly dispatched from Liverpool; however, their attempt to dismantle the device using a remote-controlled robot failed.
At precisely 11:17am, the 3,300lb device exploded.
Smoke mushroomed above the city as the explosion shattered glass windows and rained building debris onto the people below. In the aftermath, emergency services scrambled to deal with the injured civilians – around 220 of them, to be precise – and fire crews searched shops and offices for casualties.
Yet despite the horror and the devastation, not a single person was killed in the explosion.
Nevertheless, Manchester’s city centre lay in ruins. Historic landmarks such as Manchester Cathedral and the Royal Exchange Theatre needed what has been estimated to be billions of pounds worth of repairs and renovations and, most gravely, hundreds of people were left with life-changing injuries, both physically and mentally.
And yet, over a quarter of a century on from the devastating attack, the people of Manchester are still waiting for justice.
Quite remarkably, an arrest for whoever was responsible for the bomb was never made – it is widely believed that, while both Greater Manchester Police and Special Branch investigations identified the prime suspect, he was never actually arrested because of fears it could derail ongoing peace negotiations in Northern Ireland.
Graham Stringer, who led the council between 1984 and 1996 and who is today MP for the city’s Blackley and Broughton constituency, told The Independent: “I am sure the security services know who did this and I think it got caught up in the peace process.
“It’s appalling. In a democratic society, for someone to blow up the centre of a major city and injure hundreds of people, and then get away with it? It is wrong.”
In a 2006 review, GMP said there was no longer any ‘realistic possibility’ of a prosecution.
Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole said: “The Manchester bomb affected many people which is why the case has remained open and has been kept under constant review. As the 20th anniversary of the incident approaches, it is now the right time for another assessment of the case in order to identify and explore any possible potential investigative opportunities.
“If new information comes to light it would be considered, and I would urge anyone with information relevant to the investigation to get in touch with police.”
The most stunning glamping spots with summer availability near Manchester
There are some real beauty spots in this neck of the woods…
With summer fast approaching and the ongoing chaos in Manchester Airport showing no sign of subsiding, now is the perfect time to embark upon a humble British staycation.
There’s a lot to love about a holiday at home; instead of lengthy airport queues and days of jet-lag, there is an abundance of beautiful English countryside at your disposal, and all on your doorstep.
And luckily for you lot, there’s a massive selection of fantastic staycation glamping spots just a stone’s throw away from Manchester.
So without any further ado, here’s some of the best spots to book this summer…
Beechwood Nook, Rossendale
Nestled within the heart of the Rossendale Valley, Crown Lodge’s brand new Beechwood Nook chalet boasts everything you’d need for a local staycation.
Guests will have full use of a luxury kitchen, luxury bathroom, log burners, a free standing bath next to the bedroom area and their own private hot tub overlooking the valley.
And for those wanting to get out and explore, the site is situated just next to Rawtenstall, a quaint town boasting regular food markets, local pubs and cafes.
Beechwood Nook is just a fifty-minute drive from Manchester, and is easily accessable via public transport routes from the city centre.
The Domes at Ream Hills, Weeton
Sitting along a lake in the picturesque Lancashire village of Weeton, The Domes at Ream Hills provide stunning waterside views, making them the ideal spot to hunker down for a little time out of the city.
The pods, which are fully suspended over the water, come complete with transparent windows that boast spectacular views of all their wonderful surroundings.
They also feature both single and double beds, a home cinema system and central heating for those colder nights and mornings.
There is also a cafe and bar on site, and those wanting to explore further afield will find a decent pint, tasty food and a beer garden at the nearby gastropub Eagle at Weeton. The domes are also within driving distance of Blackpool and Lytham St. Annes.
Meadow Head Orchard Hut, Lancashire
The magical Meadow Head Orchard Hut is the perfect spot for those looking to de-stress away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Found within the grounds of the Meadow Head Farm in Lancashire, this cosy cabin comes complete with a wood-fired outdoor bath and communal fire pit, perfect for huddling around while watching the stars.
The hut itself is equally as rustic but comes with some modern touches, including induction hobs and an ensuite bathroom. Guests will also find local breakfast essentials in the fridge, with eggs from the ducks and fresh juice from the apple trees in season.
There’s also an abundance of wildlife to be seen within the grounds, including deer and even the hut’s own resident owl.
The Shepherd’s Rest Glamping Pod, Lake District
Surrounded the stunning Lake District countryside, The Shepherd’s Rest glamping pod gives guests the opportunity to truly get back to nature.
The pod is completely secluded and boasts panoramic views of the Dunsop and Ribble Valleys. One side holds a log burner, sofa bed and kitchen unit, and the other holds the bedroom and bathroom, complete with double bed, toilet, sink and shower.
But perhaps the most appealing part of the pod is its own private hot tub, which is perfect for sipping a glass of bubbly and enjoying the breathtaking views.
The campsite is within driving distance of pubs, restaurants and the local market town of Clitheroe for those wanting to explore.
Hidden away in a beautiful Lancashire woodland, Foxglove is the ideal escape for couples wanting a little seclusion and relaxation.
The pinnacle feature of Foxglove is the wood-fire tin bath tub and log burner, which has proven to be a huge hit among couples enjoying the night stars with a bottle of bubbly.
Inside, the cabin comes with everything you could need for a glamping trip, including an electric hob, outdoor barbecue, and a fridge-freezer. Guests can also buy and cook local produce from the onsite farm shop, as well as seasonal fruit and vegetables from the owners’ walled garden.
And for those wanting to get out and about and sample some authentic pub grub, Foxglove is situated just one mile away from a local village.
Van Goff, Powys
This 1970’s converted ‘time-warped’ caravan could be the most unique glamping experience yet, boasting vintage and pre-loved features and facilities.
Van Goff is hidden away within the wooded grounds of Bodynfoel Hall, and features a raised decking with a table, chairs and barbecue, all overlooking the lush Welsh hills.
The caravan is completely secluded with its own private facilities, and even features a little rowing boat by the lake, which guests are all welcome to use.
Van Goff is accessible by car, and can be found around a thirty minute’s drive away from the Gobowen train station.