We Are Manchester: Victims' families join defiant crowds as arena reopens three months on from terror attack

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Families of those killed in the Manchester Arena bombing joined thousands of people who flocked to the venue as it reopened for the first time.

Survivors of the atrocity in which 22 people died will also form part of the 14,000 capacity crowd at the sold-out benefit gig.

Stars of the city’s music scene including Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The Courteeners and Blossoms will pay tribute to those affected when suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up following an Ariana Grande concert.

The devastated area has been partly renovated and reopened for tonight’s event titled We Are Manchester to show the city will not be defeated by terrorism.

Defiant crowds: People wait to go through security as they arrive at the Manchester Arena (PA)

The family of 15-year-old Olivia Campbell, who was killed in the attack, will attend the event in a show of defiance.

Her mother Charlotte said: “It feels surreal at the minute.

Victim: Olivia Campbell-Hardy, 15, was killed in the explosion

“We have had to come back to show defiance, to show we are not scared and we don’t want Manchester to be scared.

Emotional day: Charlotte Campbell and Paul Hodgson, the mother and stepfather of Manchester bombing victim Olivia Campbell-Hardy (PA)

“Music was Olivia’s life. If she had been still here today she would have been walking through those doors with us, showing her defiance, that they may have got her but she’s not beaten. She’s here with us.

“It’s a massive mix of emotions, there will be tears, there will be laughter, but the main thing is we are here. We have proved no one is going to beat us.”

The concert will be held amid heightened security as armed police patrol the perimeter of the venue.

Rucksacks have been banned and fans will face strict security checks as they enter the arena.

A team of trained trauma specialists and mental health professionals will be on hand at the event for anyone who needs help.

The entertainment will begin with a pre-show DJ set from Clint Boon, followed by a performance from poet Tony Walsh, known as Longfella, with a recital of This is the Place, a homage to the city of Manchester.

All profits raised will go to the Manchester Memorial Fund, a charitable trust overseen by the city’s Lord Mayor to pay for the permanent memorial. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “The arena reopening will be a difficult and emotional night for everyone but it is an important event that will bring people together to remember all those affected by the horrific arena attack. 

“This is the strongest possible statement that we can make to those that peddle hate. They will not change us, we will continue to stand together. They will never change Manchester.”

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