The family of eight-year-old Saffie Roussos, the youngest to die when the foyer of Manchester Arena was bombed following an Ariana Granda concert, has paid tribute to her “huge character” in an interview.
Speaking to mark what would have been his “Ariana Grande-obsessed” daughter’s ninth birthday (4 July), Andrew Roussos told the BBC that losing Saffie was his “worst nightmare”, but that she would have loved to have her picture in the media.
“We didn’t want to just let her birthday pass,” he explained, appearing on the Victoria Derbyshire show. “Saffie loved the limelight, and I just wanted to celebrate Saffie’s birthday through doing this. We’ve lost everything, because life will just never be the same.”
He continued: “She was a joker. She was a huge character. She was just everything you could wish for in a little girl.
“She loved dancing, music, gymnastics. If she wanted something, she would do it. [She loved] fame, stardom. I knew that Saffie would love her pictures to be on, and to be spoken about on, TV.”
The bomb claimed 22 lives when a device was detonated in the foyer linking Victoria Station with Manchester Arena on 22 May. It exploded as crowds of people, largely young girls, were leaving the arena.
Appearing alongside Andrew, Saffie’s older sister Ashlee Bromwich – also injured in the blast – said Saffie was “Ariana Grande-obsessed” and counting down the days until the concert, which she attended with Ashlee and mum Lisa as a Christmas present.
Andrew recalled arriving at the scene to find Ashlee outside, but his wife and younger daughter missing.
Lisa had been taken to hospital and was unconscious for several days. Asked about the moment he had “dreaded” – having to tell his wife of Saffie’s death – Andrew said he didn’t have to once Lisa had woken up, telling the BBC: “She looked at me and said ‘Saffie’s gone, isn’t she?’”
Lisa is still in recovery, having had several operations, but Andrew told of how he had met with pop star Grande last month, telling her he was pleased that at least Saffie had been able to see the whole concert.
“I wanted to tell her I don't want her to blame herself.
“All she could say to me was, ‘I’m sorry’, and I said, ‘You’ve got nothing to be sorry for. You made Saffie so happy with what you do’.”
Main image: BBC still