The heartbroken families of Manchester bomb victims Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry say they have been left “overwhelmed” by people’s kindness and generosity as more than £30,000 was raised in their names.
At a special evening - held at the Customs House, South Shields - invited guests, were taken on a rollercoaster of emotions as travel agent Graeme Brett spoke of the support received for the Chloe and Liam TogetherForever Big Prize Draw.
The owner of Westoe Travel, where Chloe had been due to start work, had set about to raise £10,000 for the two families in response to the horrific bomb attack in May, which claimed the couple’s lives.
His target was smashed three times over and £30,107.00 was raised through the sale of raffle tickets and donations.
South Shields comedian Chris Ramsey made a guest appearance on the night to draw the raffle and accepted the cheque on behalf of the families.
Prizes included return flights to Dubai and a seven-night sunshine break to Bulgaria.
I am so gratful for the all the support for the fundraiser and for all the love and support shown.Graeme Brett
Mr Brett, who was supported in the fundraiser by long-term friend and travel industry colleague Ken Garrity, said: “I have known Ken for over 20 years and he is based in Manchester.
“It was a very emotional night but it was a good opportunity for the families to see the love and support there is for them in South Shields and within the travel industry.
“I am so gratful for the all the support for the fundraiser and for all the love and support shown. I was both delighted and honoured to have been able to co-ordinate the prize draw and to support two lovely families.”
The night also saw the unveiling of a memorial bench which the family hope to place somewhere in South Shields.
The families also spoke about the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust set up in celebration of their lives.
The trust aims to support those who have a passion in performance or sport, to nurture their talents through the help of bursaries.
The families are keen to help inspiring performers or sportspeople to fulfil their potential - Chloe had a gift for performing while Liam was a talented cricketer.
Speaking on behalf of the two families, Chloe’s dad Mark said: “We are all totally overwhelmed. Thank you to everyone for what they have done, fro all the love and support we have had since that horrible day - it has been amazing.
“I can’t thank Graeme and Westoe Travel enough for what they have done for us since day one.
“Going forward, it’s hard to say going forward for us but a lot of people know we have now set up a Trust.
“A Trust to support those in sport and performance. which was Liam and Chloe’s love.
“It’ll be to help those who would otherwise not be able to go to an audition or pay for sports equipment.
“It’s a way of keeping their names alive. Hopefully, people will get behind the Trust and we can help a lot of people in the area.”
Mr Brett addd: “I can’t thank the people of South Tyneside, local businesses and those within the travel industry enough for all their support and donations.
“A big thank you also to Ray Spencer and the Customs House for putting on the event and Chris Ramsey who gave his time to be at the night.”