On Monday 22 May 2017, 22 girls, women and young men were killed when a suicide bomb went off in Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. It was the deadliest terror attack in the UK since the London bombings of 2003.
A vigil was held the following evening in Albert Square in the city centre, and shortly after that floral tributes were placed in nearby St Ann’s Square. Television broadcasts in the following days used the Square as a backdrop, and the tributes kept growing daily.
These are photos I took on Friday 26 May, four days after the attack, and on Thursday 2 June – by which time the tributes had spread to places I’d been standing to take the first pictures.
While I was there both times the atmosphere was hushed, and interactions were painstakingly polite. It felt like we were part of a memorial service congregation.
Some people were giving out food and bottles of water on my first visit – these are some of their faces.
The Manchester bee, symbol of the city, featured in several of the tributes.
On my first visit with my daughter, aged 13, there were hand-written tributes in chalk on paving stones at the centre of the Square. By my second visit six days later, these were fully covered over with yet more flowers and balloons.
Since the 22nd of May, Ariana Grande has returned to Manchester to stage a concert in the victims’ memory. Seven more people have died in terror attacks in London. In two days’ time there is a general election.
But beyond the furious pace of events, the families and their loss remain. The tributes at St Ann’s Square brought home to me Philip Larkin’s line, “All that remains of us is love.” Their lives ended too early, but the love of their families, friends and communities will carry on.