A South Tyneside teenager who was caught up in the Manchester terror attack has told how she desperately tried to help people as she made her escape.
Shana McCauley had been at the arena with a friend enjoying the Ariana Grande concert, last Monday.
The pair left towards the end of the show in order to buy a balloon when a suicide bomber struck in the foyer of the venue - killing 22 people including South Tyneside couple Liam Curry, 19 and Chloe Rutherford, 17.
Her mum, Francine, a trauma specialist, has now organised a memorial service for those affected by the atrocity which has left a nation devastated in a bid to help people to come to terms with the events which unfolded that night.
The service, which will include the lighting of candles, will take place at Clervaux Exchange in Clervaux Terrace, Jarrow, on Sunday at 6pm. Mrs McCauley who runs Just-Breathe along with Jeanette Nattrass said: “Shana was left with sore ribs and bruising, She has been coping relatively well since that night, but she has suffered quite a few nightmares.
“What has happened has affected so many people, even more so with the tragic loss of the two teenagers from South Shields.
“Shana was able to text me before her phone died to let me know she and her friend were safe. I tried calling her back but her phone was dead and I couldn’t get through to her friend’s parents who she had gone down with.
“When I saw the news and what had happened - it was just awful.
“I am so proud of how she conducted herself that night. She kept a level head despite what was going on around her and managed to help people as they made their way out the building and to her friend’s parents.
“It wasn’t until afterwards she realised the full extent of what happened.”
She added: “Myself and Jeanette, have extensive experience in supporting ex-forces through post traumatic stress disorder and we just wanted to do something for the local community.
“We normally hold an annual Christmas Candlelight Service, but felt we needed to do something now. We want to provide a place where people can come together, whether they have been affected directly, indirectly or just through what they have seen on the news, to let them know they are not alone and support is available.”
Shana, 15, who attends St Joseph’s and her friend suffered bruising after being caught up in the chaos.
She said: “I feel like I am coping with what has happened quite well. I’m seeing it in a more logical way rather than what could have happened.
“We were on the stairs when we heard the bang then we just saw people running and the screams just echoed throughout the building.
“I knew we had to get out, but I just felt I had to do something to help.
“A bomb had gone off and there was nothing I could do - all I could do was just make sure people were okay.”
Noticing a toddler gripping onto the hand of a man amongst the chaos, she told the man to pick her up fearing she would be caught up swept away by the crowds that had started to pile out of the arena.
“I did what I could. I couldn’t have left knowing I hadn’t tried to help someone.”
Anyone wishing to attend is asked to either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Francine on 07765 256 778.