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 best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Amanda Seyfried’s new abode to Jessica Chastain’s feline friend

by Nicola Colyer
17 Oct 2017

Jennifer Lawrence was forced into a naked line-up by a producer

In the name of weight-loss “inspiration”

by Amy Swales
17 Oct 2017

Abigail Breslin’s photo reveals how domestic abuse can stay with you

The actor has opened up about the realities of living with PTSD

17 Oct 2017

“Why Liar is proof that TV's depiction of rape is damaging to women”

The proliferation of rape in TV and film is a real problem for the representation of women

by Harriet Hall
17 Oct 2017

Nigella Lawson reveals why red is the ultimate foodie colour

As she tracks her gastronomic love affair with all things crimson

by Stylist
17 Oct 2017

Reese Witherspoon says she was sexually assaulted at 16 by a director

“Producers made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment”

by Amy Swales
17 Oct 2017

Courtney Love tried to warn us about Harvey Weinstein in 2005

This video shows her speaking out against Weinstein over a decade ago

by Susan Devaney
17 Oct 2017

Hillary Clinton praises NHS after receiving medical treatment in UK

Clinton spoke about the UK’s health service during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show

by Moya Crockett
17 Oct 2017

Maisie Williams’ response to Sophie Turner’s engagement is perfect

There’s a reason these two have been dubbed #BFFgoals, you know…

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Oct 2017

America Ferrera reveals she was sexually assaulted as a 9-year-old

‘I believed that I was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man’

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Oct 2017