A mum and daughter who were at the Manchester Arena on the night it was attacked by a terrorist are doing the Great Manchester Run to support a charity set up in memory of a Greater Manchester victim of the bombing.
Fran Gill and her daughter Jasmine are joining thousands of people on the streets of Manchester for the run on Sunday, the fifth anniversary of the suicide bombing.
Fran and Jasmine are taking on the 10k to raise money for Liv’s Trust, which was set up in memory of Olivia Campbell-Hardy from Tottington who was one of the 22 people killed in the attack.
They have spoken about the shocking events of that night and how they came to terms with what happened to them in the aftermath.
What happened to Fran and Jasmine on the night of the attack?
Both Fran and Jasmine were at the arena when the bomb was detonated at the end of the Ariana Grande concert held there on 22 May 2017.
Fran, who is a regional operations manager for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Jasmine and her friend were inside the concert with seats near the foyer so that they could leave early for me and her friend’s mum to pick them up.
“It was their first concert alone and at just 15 years old we thought it would be ideal for them as Ariana Grande’s fan base was more appropriate for families and younger people.
“When it all happened we were waiting for them to come out of the foyer, it was chaos.
“We couldn’t find them for half an hour and eventually we found them on Cheetham Hill Road.
“Both the girls witnessed some awful things, and we were all in shock. We waited with them and another 13-year-old girl who had been separated from her mum.
“I didn’t work for four months after the attack, it really affected my mental health and we both had help privately with a therapist.
“One part of me was so grateful that we weren’t physically hurt, but the other part of me felt awful for all of the other people who weren’t as fortunate.”
What happened after the bombing and how did they decide to enter the Great Manchester Run?
Jasmine, who is studying for a musical theatre degree at Shockout, pitched the idea of running the 10k for the charity to her mum as something they could do together in memory of the date.
Fran said: “Every year the build-up to the anniversary is always an anxiety-filled time, everything feels very poignant and is quite upsetting.
“She spotted that the run is on the same day and asked if I’d be up for it. We both decided on the charity Liv’s Trust because whilst we didn’t know Olivia she lived nearby to us, was the same age as Jasmine and she was into music and performance just like Jasmine.”
Liv’s Trust helps under-25s in Greater Manchester get help to receive education in music and dance.
It was set up in memory of Tottington High School pupil Olivia Campbell-Hardy, who died in the terror attack aged just 15.
Fran described how helpful the arts were for Jasmine during her recovery from the things she saw and experienced that night at the arena and how vital the charity’s work opening culture up to more young people is.
Fran said: “The arts have helped me and Jasmine get through, I know that Jasmine found that acting and dancing helped her work through her emotions. Expressing herself this way has been therapeutic.
“The aftermath of the attack showed everyone that art could unite us, we said ‘We’re Manchester, we stand together, we choose to love’ and I feel like that was always there from the One Love concert or Tony Walsh’s poem on the steps, and the Manchester survivors choir singing ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger.’
“Which is why it’s so important that Liv’s Trust is supported so that people who can’t afford to can get support to take part in the arts.”
What has Fran said about doing the 10k?
Fran has been training for the past three weeks for the Great Manchester Run and the race day will be the first time she will be running a 10k distance in one go.
She said: “The run has given me something to focus on and making sure I do my training has taken my mind off it and turned it into something positive because when I’m at work or just by myself everything feels more emotional around this time.
“I did the Couch to 5k when the swimming baths were closed in lockdown, but a 10k is a different challenge. Jasmine and I have been following a similar training plan, running three times a week, one of those sessions is interval training.
“I’ve not yet completed a 10k distance but I’m confident on the day I’ll be able to do it. I’ve already said to Jasmine she can meet me at the finish line because she’s faster than me.
“I’m excited for the day, it’s going to be really emotional, but it’s going to help us make a more positive memory for the 22nd of May.”
To find out more or support Fran and Jasmine, visit the JustGiving page here.