One of the York sisters who lost her parents in the Manchester Arena attack has spoken of that terrible night in a moving television interview.
Alex, 21 and her sister Patrycia, 14, were due to be picked up by parents Angelika, 39, and Marcin, 42, after watching watching Ariana Grande in concert in 2017.
But their parents were two of the 22 people killed after a suicide bomber committed the atrocity.
Today (19 February) she appeared on This Morning on ITV and spoke about that terrible night and its aftermath with presenters Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford.
‘Immediately I had a feeling’
Alex said the concert had finished when she heard something strange.
“Then there was a muffled sound – I would never have said it was anything of that sort. Then we were told it was a light malfunction, and then it was something else.
“Then, as soon as we were evacuated, it was pretty obvious it was what it was – because of the smell. And you couldn’t see anything.”
Alex told the presenters:
Once we got outside immediately I tried to call my mum, I tried to call my dad – and I didn’t get anywhere.
Immediately I kind of had a feeling.
The sisters were evacuated to a hotel. One of her mum’s friends picked them up from Manchester and took them home.
Returned to Manchester
Alex and her mum’s friend returned to Manchester the next day, leaving Patrycia at home. They toured hospitals to see if their parents were there.
It was more than 24 hours afterwards that we actually found out.
We were taken to the Etihad Stadium. We waited there for hours on end. I think it was just before midnight that we actually had somebody come in – had some police come in, had some psychologists come in.
Even then they weren’t 100% – they said 99%…
So then I had to go home, wake my sister up, and tell her before she found out any other way.
Alex was asked how it had affected her. “I’ve just had to grow up – overnight. It came very naturally, there were no other options.
“It was kind of autopilot the whole way. We’re used to it now. We just live our lives. We get on.”
Criticised ‘ISIS bride’
In an interview with the BBC, Shamima Begum, now 19, said the deaths of 22 innocent people in the Manchester terrorist attack were akin to the “women and children” being bombed in IS territory in Baghuz.
“I think she’s comparing two things that shouldn’t ever be compared,” Alex said on This Morning. “She’s saying that there’s fighters that are in the Islamic State getting killed.
“Those people go there knowing what to expect. People who went to the Manchester Arena, they went there to take their kids to a concert. They went there thinking they were going to get home that night and tuck their kids into bed.
“She’s out of order, comparing those two things.”
Alex said Shamima and others like her shouldn’t be allowed back into Britain:
There’s already so many questions whether this country did enough to stop the suicide bomber at Manchester.
And I don’t think this country can afford more risk.
She said the help they had received from the Manchester emergency fund had helped “a huge amount”.
Alex and Patrycia were in a rented house – and her wage didn’t cover the rent. “The money raised massively helped with buying a house so we don’t have to worry about stuff like rent, so we’re set up for the future.”