Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Bataclan survivor offers words of hope to those affected by the Manchester attack

bataclan attack letter manchester.jpg

Details are still emerging of the 22 victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester, of the children, teenagers and adults whose lives were cut short when a suicide bomber detonated his device in the foyer of Manchester Arena on Monday night (22 May).

At last count, a further 116 people were reported injured, many seriously, and countless concert-goers will struggle to process the traumatising experience for years to come.

Now a survivor of 2015’s terrorist attack in Paris has penned an open letter to offer words of hope to the many witnesses, friends and family members who might feel lost in the coming days.

manchester attack

The attack killed 22 people and injured 59

Writing in The Guardian, music journalist Kelly Le Guen recalls how on the night of 13 November, gun-wielding terrorists stormed an Eagles of Death Metal gig in the Bataclan music venue, killing 89 people.

She describes how, terrified, she and others barricaded themselves in a dressing room they’d found, refusing to move even when the police tried to get in – and how that decision saved their lives because the ‘policeman’ turned out to be one of the gunmen.

However despite the shocking, disturbing and traumatic nature of such an experience, in a moving essay Le Guen insists that there is hope for those affected by such attacks.

She writes: “In the immediate days after the Paris attacks, people were scared, sad, angry. Just like now. Which is, of course, totally comprehensible.

“But I want to tell you something that may seem hard to believe right now: it gets better.”

Read more: “A teenage girl's first concert is a rite of passage”

She goes to say that while it would be tempting, and understandable, to never put herself in a concert situation again, she has attended gigs since.

“I know that a lot of the survivors of the Manchester atrocity will feel this event will shape their whole lives from now on. That’s something I thought would happen to me too, at first. But then I decided that it would not.

“Music is my passion. It has been for many years, and I can’t imagine living without it […] It was absolutely impossible to kick that part of my life away after the attack. So I resolutely went to the first gig I had scheduled that wasn’t cancelled. And I’ve been to a lot more since, including at the Bataclan.

“Why? Because I love the venue, and I won’t let anyone take that away from me [...] hang on to the things you love and you live for. You want to kick away the bad stuff, not the good.”

She finishes by saying: “Focus on the good things, and surround yourself with good people.

“I know it might seem impossible to go to another live gig or concert if you experienced the terror of hearing the bomb at close range, or seeing things nobody should ever see. But I promise, if you manage to overcome your fear one day (and believe me that is possible), you have the potential to be the happiest person […] Even if it seems hard, it’s worth fighting for.”

manchester attack vigil signs

People have been sharing messages of hope and unity following the attack

The Manchester blast took place as crowds were streaming out following the end of an Ariana Grande concert. Given the former child star’s fan base, many of the attendees were young children and teenagers whose parents had accompanied them or were waiting to pick them up.

Two of the victims, Alison Howe, 45, and Lisa Lees, 47, were waiting in the foyer to pick up their daughters, while the youngest named victim, Saffie Rose Roussos, was just eight years old and was at the concert with her mum and sister, who were injured in the explosion.

Bereavement and charity organisations have acknowledged the fact that parents, relatives and teachers across the UK are facing difficult, upsetting conversations with the children in their care, and many have issued guidance, while the BBC collated advice from professionals on how to talk about terrorist attacks with children.

Read her letter in full here.

Images: Rex Features


ariana grande manchester bomb terror.jpg

People share messages of defiance after Manchester terror attack


Manchester attack: the woman who heroically protected over 50 children

virgola instagram manchester attack.jpg

“We stand by your side”: the world responds to the Manchester attack



The Dynasty reboot you've all been dreaming of is coming to Netflix

Big hair, big shoulder pads, big drama

by Nicola Colyer
23 Jun 2017

Lady Gaga just proved that she really isn't like the rest of us

Not your average hiking gear

by Nicola Colyer
23 Jun 2017

Bill Cosby will give talks on how to avoid sexual assault allegations

“They need to know... when they are doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing.”

by Amy Swales
23 Jun 2017

Everything we know about the Downton Abbey film so far

Next year, people. NEXT YEAR.

by Nicola Colyer
23 Jun 2017

White House responds to claims the Queen “snubbed” President Trump

But did the Queen really do this on purpose?

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Jun 2017

Ellen DeGeneres catches audience member stealing, publicly shames her

Top tip? Don’t steal from Ellen DeGeneres

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Jun 2017

Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick lined up for new thriller

"A feverish and expertly plotted tale of psychological suspense"

by Nicola Colyer
22 Jun 2017

We bloody love Kate Beckinsale’s hilarious Manspreading Action Plan

She knows exactly what to do when a man spreads his legs

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Jun 2017

This is what Amanda Knox’s Instagram account looks like

The Seattle native has made her feed public

by Anna Brech
22 Jun 2017

Prince Harry is still haunted by memories of Princess Diana’s funeral

‘I don’t think any child should be asked to do what I did’

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Jun 2017