Well, its been a little while hasn’t it? If you’ve been following my adventures on Instagram, you’ll know that that’s because I’ve been back visiting India for a bit. And while I don’t normally blog when I’m on holiday, I decided to dust off the old laptop because I have something special to share today. Something I promised to write about when it happened, but haven’t been able to open up about until now.
If you live outside of the UK, chances are, you probably won’t understand the significance of today. But today, the 22nd of May, marks the anniversary of the day Manchester, my second home, was attacked by a suicide bomber, tragically killing 22 people (mainly parents and children) and injuring countless more. Long-time followers will know that I happened to be at the very concert that was bombed and managed to make a very lucky escape. Many others, however, weren’t quite as lucky and my heart still hurts for everyone who lost anyone on this terrible day.
The world we live in these days is a scary place, where tragedies like this occur on the regular. But through it all, the one thing that I took away from the experience was just how amazing Manchester, my new home, was as a city. Sadly, you hear about terror attacks almost every day on the news, but I am yet to see a city rally together and support one another the way Manchester did in its moment of crisis.
Restaurants stayed open all night to help give people food, shelter and water and charge their cell phones. Taxi drivers took people to their homes free of charge. Ordinary civilians opened up their homes to complete strangers, offering them a couch to sleep on for the night and even organised initiatives to help reunite parents with scared children they had been separated from in the stampede.
Soon after, St. Anne’s Square was turned into a memorial for those who died in the tragedy with thousands of Mancunians visiting every day to light a candle for the victims. Ariana Grande organised the One Love concert to raise money for the victims of the attack and was made an honorary citizen of the city. Tony Walsh wrote the poem ‘This Is The Place’ and gifted it to the city so that all royalties would go towards the One Manchester fund. Manc bloggers like Megan Ellaby did their bit by organising clothing sales to raise money to help support the victims of the attack. Tattoo artists across the city began tattooing Worker Bees (a symbol of industry which had been associated with Manchester since it was granted city status in 1842) on people at a fixed price, donating 100% of the money towards heping the victims of the attack.
And it was around this time that the Worker Bee symbol became an overnight sensation with countless local brands creating and selling Worker Bee themed products, donating the proceeds and sometimes even the entire sale price to charities raising money for the victims. First only really seen on public property or property of the Manchester City Council, following the terror attack of 2017, the Worker Bee became a city-wide phenomenon and grew to represent so much more than just industry. It now became a symbol of bravery, unity, love, compassion and above all, a sense of pride to be Mancunian. To belong to the city that, when faced with evil and hate, chose not to respond with anger, but with love. A city that went above and beyond for its own and continues to do so, even today.
It makes my heart swell to hear that on the anniversary of this tragedy, my beloved city is once again, rallying together to always remember and never forget the fact that they lost their own. With numerous choirs performing, including a choir made up of survivors from the attack performing Grande’s songs, song lyrics being projected onto the pavements, a Fower Festival, the Trees of Hope trail, a National Service of Rememberance and the Great Manchester Run being organised in tribute of the victims of the attack, it is so amazing to see just how much this city cares, and just how strong we are together. Love always, always wins.
The terror attack was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through, but it has made me stronger than I ever knew I could be. And more than anything, it made Manchester, a city I only moved to three years ago, feel like a proper home. I may not know a lot of people there yet, but it still felt like people had my back. And while I am so grateful to be alive and with my loved ones some 4000 miles away right now, it also means that I won’t be able to attend any of the tribute events. Which is why I was looking for a way to pay tribute in my own way.
I had seen and heard a lot about the Thomas Sabo Generation Charm Club from some of the coolest style bloggers on my Instagram feed. So when I was browsing their website the week before I left for India and found a little bee charm, I was ecstatic. I just knew that this would be my own way of paying tribute to the victims of the attack, the city I’ve fallen so in love with and the event that made me realise that if I could be strong and get through that, I could get through anything. And so here I am, on the other side of the world a year later, still wearing my little Manchester Bee charm close to my heart.
What I love about the Generation Charm Club is that they’ve got something for everyone – from unisex designs, options for men and XL sizes if you prefer your charms supersized. The charms are very collectible, customizable (they offer free engraving) and are easy to pair with other pieces of jewellery like the little hoop earrings I have on here. My favourite way to wear them is layering them and I plan on layering my little bee over a tiny charm engraved with the date I met James on Tinder and my life changed forever. Together, they serve as the perfect reminder of how lucky I am – to be alive, to have people who love me, and to call two beautiful cities home.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Farozan Dossani
*This post is a paid collaboration with Thomas Sabo. However, all opinions are entirely my own and I would never endorse brands / products I don’t genuinely believe in / wouldn’t buy or wear personally.