Girl hurt in Manchester attack leaves hospital for Ariana Grande concert

Lily Harrison was visited by singer in hospital and allowed out by doctors for Sunday’s benefit gig at Old Trafford

An eight-year-old girl who was injured with her mother and father in the Manchester Arena attack is to attend Sunday evening’s benefit concert after becoming determined to do so when Ariana Grande visited her in hospital.

Lily Harrison has been at the Royal Manchester Children’s hospital since 22 May, when a piece of shrapnel from the bomb become lodged against her shoulder blade, cracking her bone. Her mother, Lauren Thorpe, has been in the neighbouring bed, recovering from five operations on a deep wound in her thigh caused by an inch-long bolt.

On Friday, Grande surprised them and other patients on the ward. She dished out hugs, flowers and Harrods teddy bears, rather upstaging Prince William, who had done the rounds earlier in the day.

Lily’s father, Adam Harrison, said his daughter wowed the singer with her knowledge of Grande’s more obscure tunes. “Ariana asked her what her favourite song was and Lily chose one of her less popular songs – she looked quite impressed that Lily hadn’t chosen one of the big hits,” said Harrison, who is on crutches after tearing a ligament in his ankle running out of the arena carrying Lily.

Adam Harrison.
Adam Harrison. Photograph: BBC News/PA

His daughter was wearing an Ariana Grande T-shirt, which the performer admired on her visit. “I had to confess that it wasn’t official merchandise – it was a bootleg one from a big batch dropped off at the children’s ward from one of the guys who sells unofficial stuff outside the arena. She and I had both got official T-shirts at the gig, but Lily’s got covered in blood and the police took it away as evidence,” said Harrison.

Lily and her mother will not be discharged from hospital until early next week, but doctors allowed them to attend the concert at Old Trafford cricket ground along with Lily’s father and a few other young patients. Grande’s management organised tickets after Lily, an avid concert-goer and Glastonbury veteran, told the singer she was determined to attend.

“Lily told her she was coming and Ariana seemed a bit surprised. She said that she would love that, but that she would totally understand if she changed her mind,” said Harrison.

Meeting her idol was a huge boost for Lily, he added: “For the first three or four days after the attack she didn’t speak, other than to answer yes or no. Now she’s getting back to her old self and has even watched a video Lauren took of her singing along to Ariana at the concert where all of this happened.”

Thorpe had a wobble about going to the concert after the London terror attacks, said Harrison. “She was expressing some doubts, but I told her that you can’t let this rule your life. You’ve got tickets to the biggest concert of the year, with the biggest bands in the world – it’s something to look forward to. Lily has been so excited about it ever since she met Miss G.”

Talking before the concert, he insisted he wasn’t afraid. “A small part of me is a little bit apprehensive, but I think you have to meet these things head-on. People have got to come together. As cheesy as it sounds, music is a really good foundation to bring people together. It’s a show of unity, and I want Lily to experience that.”


Helen Pidd North of England editor

The GuardianTramp

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