They were our very own Romeo and Juliet....
Those were the words used by executive director of the Customs House and close family friend Ray Spencer as he paid tribute to South Tyneside sweethearts Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, who were killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack.
As the haunting sound of a lone piper could be heard 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, joined by the emergency services, to celebrate the lives of the couple who over the years have touched so many hearts with their kindness and fun-loving nature.
At 10.31am - 12 hours before the blast which claimed the lives of 22 people and left many more seriously injured one year today - silence fell as a flag bearing Chloe and Liam’s name gently blew in the wind from a mast above.
Leading the tribute. Mr 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.”
Also read: Familes remember Liam and Chloe
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Ken Stephnson, also paid tribute to the couple before Chloe’s dad, Mark, speaking on behalf of the two families, thanked the community for coming together.
He said: "We are gathered her this morning to remember a much loved couple on the anniversary of their death. The council is honoured to have been asked to facilitate such a special tribute of remembrance to Chloe and Liam.
"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 on sport and the pertforming arts.
"It is a lasting legacy to Chloe and Liam and I am delighted to be able to support it during 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."
Choking back the tears, he bravely read out the names of all 22 people who lost their lives on the night of the horrific attack at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017.
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 created with love for South Tyneside’s very own Romeo and Juliet.