THE mum of a young Ariana Grande fan caught up in the Manchester terror attack has told of the emotional and mental impact the atrocity has had on her daughter.
Amelia Mae Thompson escaped from the Arena physically uninjured, but has been left deeply traumatised by the events of that night and is currently receiving counselling.
The 12-year-old had been at the Dangerous Woman tour with her mum, Lisa Newton, when Salman Abedi detonated the deadly device on May 22, killing 22 people.
Lisa, 41, said her daughter saw things that no one should ever have to see.
“Amelia has been really struggling since. For days she barely spoke, it wasn’t until the One Love concert, which we nearly didn’t go to because of how scared she was, that she finally began to open up about what happened.”
Lisa explained how the concert was supposed to have been a treat for the schoolgirl following a tough few years in which she lost her uncle Haydn, and faced the agony of seeing her dad, Wayne, end up in intensive care after suffering two heart attacks.
But instead Amelia ended up in counselling and also is having speech therapy after damaging her vocal chords by screaming in utter terror during the attack.
Lisa added: “She started talking in her sleep, she’s lost loads of weight, and she just wants to be isolated.
“Going out to places has become really difficult. She’s okay doing things she knows but anything out of the ordinary she doesn’t feel safe.
“Amelia was panicking over sports day because of the starting gun – she’s now terrified of loud noises, and when a balloon popped at her dance show she went into hysterics.
“She has become quite clingy. Before she’d happily sit a few seats away from me on a train but now she wants to be near me in case something happens.”
The day of the concert, Lisa and Amelia had got the train from their home in Sheffield so they could enjoy a ‘girly day’ in Manchester.
While looking at Ariana Grande tour t-shirts in the foyer, they met another mum and daughter who lived nearby and had arranged to meet afterwards to share a taxi home.
But after the bomb went off, things descended into chaos, and they were unable to find each other.
Desperate to know they were safe, Lisa launched an appeal on BBC Radio Sheffield and several days later was reunited with Ruby Crookes Carr, 10, and her mum Vanessa.
She explained the girls struck up a close friendship, and all four have been supporting each other through their ordeal.
Last month, Amelia was nominated to take part in a professional photoshoot with digital photographer Imelda Bell, and decided she wanted to use it as an opportunity to pay tribute to the people that lost their lives in the attack.
The image shows her in a long purple dress holding a lantern. At her feet sit 22 candles – one for each of the people who died – and a bee hovers above the lantern in the air.
Lisa said it was fantastic to see her daughter smiling again and enjoying herself.
“Going to see Imelda was a big thing, we travelled a long way and it was somewhere unfamiliar, but we went and over time Amelia started to open up. It was great to see her having fun because it had been so long.
“To see her smiling again was amazing, I can’t describe how it made me feel as a mum after everything we have been through.
“Amelia was determined to something in memory of the victims and the end result really is beautiful, it had me in tears.”
Imelda said she recently launched a campaign to offer free photoshoots to children such as Amelia who have been going through a tough time in a bid to help them relax and have fun.
She added: “Amelia was nominated by her mum for an ‘every child is beautiful’ photoshoot after she witnessed the awful terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena and is the first child to have a photoshoot as a result of my campaign.
“She and her mum Lisa travelled all the way from Sheffield to my studio near Maidstone in Kent, which was a huge undertaking for them with all they have been through.
“I was very flattered that they came from so far to have me take photos for them. Amelia wanted to do something to commemorate the people who died in the bombing, so I suggested that we create an image with a candle to represent each of the 22 victims. I have called the image ‘22 Candles – Remembering Manchester’.”