A WOMAN who grew up in Whiteness helped reunite a young girl with her mother after finding herself caught up in the horrific terrorist bombing at Manchester Arena on Monday night.
Nineteen year old Sarah Gardiner, who was raised in Shetland and only moved away to Dumfriesshire around four months ago, had travelled to Manchester for the Ariana Grande concert.
After the bomb, which killed 23 people in the young audience and injured dozens more, she and her boyfriend Robert Kirkpatrick tried to reunite a young girl with her mother.
She posted on Twitter on Tuesday still in disbelief at what had happened, saying that initially she “honestly thought it was gunshots” and couldn’t believe it was a bomb and that people had been killed.
The couple were making their way through the terrified crowd after the blast, which occurred in the venue’s foyer just after the American pop singer’s concert ended, They spotted a “young lass” aged roughly 14, who was in distress and clinging to the railings.
“We found a young girl named Katie,” Sarah said. “She was at the concert on her own. Her friends were there but in a different area. She was meant to be meeting her mum at the Victoria Station..
“She was just a young lass who was terrified. We had to help her. I think concentrating on helping her was what was keeping us from freaking out.”
When they arrived at the train station everyone was told to turn around. They searched for the girl’s mother for around 15 minutes and when they found her “she just thanked us over and over and hugged us. Her mother and sister were both in tears”.
Sarah and Robert also came to the aid of a man who fell to the ground and was “in shock and people were just trampling over him. We helped him up, but we had to keep going – we could not stop.”
She said the couple, who live in Annan, were still “shaken up” – she has delayed starting a new job by a day while she gets over the emotional shock.
“My boyfriend was really strong and was concentrating on making sure I was alright,” Sarah said. “I’m just grateful to be one of the lucky ones that made it out alive. My thoughts and prayers are with the people who were killed and injured and their families.
“We saw some horrific things in the street. Paramedics were treating people and we were trying not to look because the injuries were so bad. People were screaming and crying.”
Sarah posted on Twitter just after 11.30pm on Monday to assure friends and relatives that she and Robert were safely back at their hotel.
She said Ariana Grande, a 23 year old singer from Florida who has topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, had always been about “promoting love, no matter what religion, gender or sexuality”.
“She has a lot of vulnerable fans,” Sarah said. “She has a lot of fans aged under 10 up to late teens. I can’t believe someone would carry out such a cowardly act.”
She added that she “really appreciates all the support from people” in the days past 36 hours and was happy for people who know her to “reach out” to her, but said she would prefer if strangers stopped trying to add her on social media.
I’m in so much shock. I’m very grateful to be safe and my heart goes out to everyone who weren’t so lucky. I can’t believe this happened
— sarah gardiner (@_sarahgardiner) May 22, 2017
Out of all the kids still separated from their parents I’m so glad we managed to help a little and reunite Katie with her mum and sister
— sarah gardiner (@_sarahgardiner) May 23, 2017