There are no words, nor will there ever be, to describe the heartache, pain or sense of loss felt by the families, friends and all those who knew Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry.
Tuesday marks one year since the much-loved couple, described as perfect for one another, had their lives cut short in the Manchester Arena bomb attack.
They had both been enjoying the Ariana Grande concert – a night they should have returned home from, filled with excitement and memories ready to share with their parents.
Instead, the beds at their hotel room lay empty and their phones went unanswered as frantic calls were made to the pair as news of the attack unfolded.
To mark Tuesday’s first anniversary, the couple’s families have released new pictures to show the love the pair had for each other and the passion they had for their respective talents in performance and sport – the very foundations which their parents have been guided to build the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust on.
As people gather outside South Shields Town Hall on Tuesday, in honour of Chloe, 17 and Liam, 19, their families are asking people not to think about the atrocity which snatched them from their loved ones, but to remember them for who they were – two kids from South Shields who were very much in love and whose kindness, caring nature and zest for life knew no bounds.
Both Chloe and Liam’s families – Mark and Lisa Rutherford and Caroline Curry – have chosen not to attend a service in Manchester to honour those killed in the attack, instead wishing to remain in their home town, where it is expected thousands of people will wear items of blue and pink – the colours that have become symbolic of the love and togetherness the much-loved couple represented.
Chloe’s mam Lisa said: “Chloe and Liam loved a selfie. You really don’t understand just how precious pictures like that are until they are no longer here.
“This is where the kids are from, grew up and where they went to school. Their families are here, their friends are here.
“We have no idea how we are going to feel, which is why we wanted to stay and be around the people we love and where we feel loved.
“We are very aware of everything that was going on up here when we were in Manchester. For us to be here and see it for ourselves this time is a lovely way to honour our children.”
She added: “The longer it goes on, the realisation they are not coming back starts to become more and more real. I’m still looking for them, it’s like they are away on some journey.
“Everything we are doing with the Trust and the support we are receiving is helping to keep us focused. The words ‘thank you’ never seem enough for the support we’ve received and the love we have felt from everyone from day one. But we mean it from the bottom of our hearts – thank you.”
Liam’s mam Caroline, said: “We don’t need Tuesday to know Chloe and Liam are no longer with us. The date is irrelevant. Every day is like May 22nd for us. We go to sleep, they’re not here, we wake up and their beds are empty. We live every day with the pain of what happened, which is why we wanted to turn something which was so horrific and so painful into something positive like the Trust.
“We decided a long time ago that we would not be going to Manchester, we said we wanted to stay in South Shields and be around the people who knew Chloe and Liam.
Chloe and Liam, who both worked part-time at the Hilton hotel in Gateshead, had been together for three years after meeting through cricket – a sport played by Liam and Chloe’s older brother Scott and Liam’s younger brother Zack.
They soon become inseparable and had huge dreams with holidays planned and their future of marriage and children already mapped out.
Chloe had been due to take up a full-time apprenticeship with Westoe Travel in South Shields where she had been working part-time for six months which further fuelled her love of travelling.
The families are determined not to let their children be remembered as victims of the Manchester terror attack. Instead, using their heartache and unconditional love, they channelled their grief into creating a lasting legacy for the pair – The Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust.
They want it to be a symbol that will allow their children’s names to be remembered in a positive light – inspiring and helping young performers and sportspeople to follow their dreams.