Hundreds of people stood in silence yesterday to celebrate the lives of Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry – on the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bomb atrocity.
The couple from South Shields, described as perfect for each other, were among the 22 killed in the attack, on May 22 last year.
Yesterday, to mark one year since the atrocity, hundreds of people dressed in pink and blue – the colours that have become symbolic of the much-loved teenagers – stood together as one, outside South Shields Town Hall in their honour.
The haunting sound of a lone piper marked the start of the service as their heartbroken families took their place next to a memorial bench created in honour of the couple.
At 10.31am – 12 hours before the exact time of the blast – silence fell as a flag bearing 17-year-old Chloe and 19-year-old Liam’s names gently blew in the wind from a mast on top of the town hall.
Leading the event, family friend and executive director of The Customs House, South Shields, Ray Spencer, said: “This day will forever be filled with sadness and a sense of loss. But it will also be forever the day we remember the joy and love, the compassion and smiles, our very own Romeo and Juliet brought into our lives.”
I want to thank everyone in our loving community for being here today. It is a wonderful way of making sure the memories of Chloe and Liam live on here in South Tyneside.Coun Ken Stephenson
The new Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Ken Stephenson, also paid tribute to the couple as those in the crowd sought comfort from one another as well as the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust which has been created as a lasting legacy to Chloe and Liam to support young performers and sportspeople to follow their dreams.
Coun Stephenson said: “I am so proud to have the Together Forever Trust as one of the good causes to benefit from this year’s Mayor’s Charity Fund. The Together Forever Trust was set up by the families of Chloe and Liam to celebrate their young lives and to help inspire and support children to reach their potential in sport and performing arts.
“It is a lasting legacy to Chloe and Liam and I’m delighted to be able to support it in my year in office.
“I want to thank everyone in our loving community for being here today. It is a wonderful way of making sure the memories of Chloe and Liam live on here in South Tyneside.
As the lone piper once again played, the public were invited to lay their own floral tributes to the pair on the specially designed bench.