The mother of Eilidh MacLeod has told how her world was torn apart by the Manchester Arena terrorist attack.
Marion MacLeod told the public inquiry into the terror attack that she had arrived outside the venue to collect her 14-year-old daughter and her friend who had been to the Ariana Grande pop concert on May 22, 2017. Mrs MacLeod and Eilidh had travelled there from their home on the Hebridean island of Barra, staying over in a hotel close to the Arena.
Mrs MacLeod said in a statement read to the inquiry on Monday (27th) that Eilidh, the middle one of three sisters, was, “beyond excited” to be attending the concert and that she and Eilidh [pictured] swapped messages during the show. Mrs MacLeod said: “She was loving life and I told her to sing her heart out and dance the night away. I told that I would be there to collect her later and that I loved her.” Later, she went to meet Eilidh and her friend when the show was due to finish.
She said: “As I left our hotel I messaged Eilidh asking if the concert was over and she messaged back saying it was the last song. It was 10.29pm. I was just about at the corner across the road from the Arena where I told Eilidh I would be waiting for them when I heard an enormous explosion. The ground shook and that was when our whole world was torn apart.”
Eilidh entered the foyer to the Arena at 10.30pm at the end of the show. Suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his device, packed with thousands of nuts a minute later. Eilidh stood four metres away. Footage from the City Room minutes later showed Eilidh lying on her right hand side and not moving. By 10.51pm she had been covered with clothing. At 11.45pm a a paramedic placed a label on her by to identify her as deceased.
A post-mortem examination, reports from bomb blast wave experts and pathology reports all concluded Eilidh’s injuries were not survivable.
The inquiry, sitting in Manchester, is being chaired by Sir John Saunders and will look at how and in what circumstances each of the 22 victims died on May 22 2017, and to probe whether any inadequacies in the emergency response contributed to individual deaths and/or if they could have been prevented.
The hearing, which commenced on September 7, 2020 continues. It is scheduled to end on October 12, 2021.
• The forthcoming Piping Times Annual wil carry a report on the work of the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust.
Two live solo piping competitions are scheduled to take place this weekend in Scotland, one for senior pipers and one for juniors.
The Captain John A. MacLellan MBE Piping Championship is scheduled for this Saturday at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming in Edinburgh. The competition did not take place at all last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisers say there is a good entry across the grades.
The inaugural Lochnell Intermediate Piping Championship will also go ahead this Saturday at Lochnell Castle in Benderloch, Argyll. This invitational contest will see ten young Scottish pipers play an MSR and a pibroch.
The pipers (and their tunes) are:
- Bobby Allan (MacDougall’s Gathering)
- Ruairidh Brown (Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert’s Fancy)
- Finlay Cameron (Lament for the Iolaire).
- Ross Conner (Lament for Mary MacLeod)
- Hamish Drennan (The Battle of the Pass of Crieff)
- Andrew Ferguson (The Earl of Ross’s March)
- Luke Kennedy (MacKay’s Banner)
- Cameron May (The King’s Taxes)
- Anna Smart (The Old Men of the Shells)
- Brodie Watson-Massey (Lament for Ronald MacDonald of Morar)
Lochnell Castle is the home of Lord Dundonald and his family. It is associated with Scarce of Fishing and Lochnell’s Lament.