Ariana Grande made honorary citizen of Manchester

Singer whose concert was scene of terrorist attack recognised for efforts in organising subsequent benefit gig for victims

Ariana Grande has been made an honorary citizen of Manchester after organising a concert to raise funds for victims of the terrorist attack in the city.

Councillors voted unanimously at a sometimes emotional meeting to award the distinction after the pop singer’s involvement in the One Love benefit concert in aid of the victims of the bomb.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people, including seven children, when he detonated a device as people began leaving Grande’s show at Manchester Arena on 22 May.

The 23-year-old is recognised for her efforts in organising the charity concert at the Old Trafford cricket ground, which featured Coldplay, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry.

Grande helped to raise almost £3m when she returned to Manchester to perform at the concert 13 days after the suicide bombing, which struck at the end of her Dangerous Woman concert.

The singer also visited a number of injured children in hospital following the attack. Her mother, Joan, who ushered concertgoers to safety backstage after the explosion in the arena foyer, was seen walking through the One Love Manchester crowd telling young fans not to give in to fear at the benefit concert on 4 June.

On Wednesday morning, there was a unanimous chorus of “aye” as councillors in Manchester voted to make Grande an honorary citizen of the city.

Family members of some of the victims sat in the public gallery of the city’s town hall as the motion was passed. The council also voted to hold civic receptions for those who helped with the response and to propose a new awards scheme to recognise outstanding contributions to the city.

The council leader, Sir Richard Leese, put forward the motion and described the 23-year-old singer as “a young American woman for whom it would have been understandable if she never wanted to see this place again”.

He added: “But no - instead she, as an artist, a performer, was determined that she would not perform again until she had returned to Manchester to perform,” he said.

“In doing so, she brought comfort to thousands, she raised millions for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund and became the first patron of that fund. And that’s why I propose that Ariana Grande is made the first honorary citizen of the city of Manchester.”

The meeting heard from several guest speakers who had been involved in the response. Ast Ch Con Vanessa Jardine described the role of officers both in the initial response to the incident and in the investigation.

She said: “The outpouring of public support was both tangible and uplifting across the city.”

Lorraine Hulme, a ward sister at Wythenshawe hospital who was on duty on the night of the atrocity, told the meeting: “I feel extremely proud to be part of such an outstanding team and I know the same can be said for all hospitals and their staff involved across the region.”

Council officer Mark Rainey was visibly emotional as he described his role in coordinating the authority’s response to the attack. Describing the mood of the city, he said: “It was very clear that we felt pain and sadness but we stood tall, stronger and defiant. We wanted to do anything we could to help the people and families who had been affected.”

Leaders of different faiths from across the city said prayers at the start of the meeting and the names of the 22 victims, including seven children, were read out before a minute’s silence.

The meeting ended with a performance of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger by the Halle String Quartet.

The lLord mayor, Eddy Newman, said the song had become an “anthem for the way the city and the people of Manchester have remained strong and committed to peace and justice in defiance of the act of evil that was committed at the arena”.

He told family members at the meeting: “You are forever in the hearts of Manchester and its people.”

Councillor Sue Murphy, who seconded the motion, said planning for a permanent memorial to the victims in the city would begin in September.

Honorary citizenship is the highest honour a city can give apart from the rarely awarded freedom of the city, which has only been awarded four times since 2000.

The stars granted the freedom of Manchester include the broadcaster Anthony H Wilson, the former England and Manchester United footballer Sir Bobby Charlton, the Manchester-based GB Cycling and Paracycling Teams, and the Nobel prize-winning University of Manchester professors Sir Andrei Geim and Sir Konstantin Novoselov, who first isolated the wonder material graphene.


Nazia Parveen North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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