• The Villages Mag

Remembering Nell at 16

Celebrating the spirit of Manchester two years on

It is almost two years since the night in May 2017 when an atrocious attack on young people enjoying a night out at the MEN Arena changed forever, the lives of so many people. None more so than for the families and friends of the 22 who lost their lives that night. Nell Jones (14), was one of those young people who lost her life whilst enjoying a night out with her friend. It was a birthday treat and one that changed the lives of those who loved her most.

On Wednesday, 17th April, the day after what would have been Nell’s 16th birthday, her family and friends were joined by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham  as guests of the Hilton Hotel in Manchester for a very special ceremony to recognise the true spirit of Manchester.

Mr Burnham unveiled to the supporters, a tapestry designed and created by local artist Pauline Kirton, in the aftermath of the attack, that symbolizes everything good about the way Manchester came together in solidarity. The tapestry was given to The Remembering Nell Foundation, a charity set up in Nell’s name to improve the lives of young people, after first being displayed in the cathedral during the ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the attack last May.

Left to Right - Sam Jones, Andy Burnham, Pauline Kirton & Jayne Jones Unveiling the tapestry depicting the spirit of Manchester

Mr Burnham, during a short introduction commented:

“This is a wonderful tribute to Manchester, to its people and to the true spirit of unity that we will always remember as the overwhelming response after the attack. The tapestry has so many references that people will recognise. The reference to the Hacienda for example brought a smile to my face as I’m sure it will to many people.

It is fantastic that Nell’s family have had the tapestry framed and in conjunction with the Hilton Hotel, Manchester, will be making it available for everyone to see and enjoy.”

Jayne Jones, Nell’s mum, responded on behalf of the family and the Foundation:

“The tapestry is such a beautiful tribute to Manchester and to those affected in anyway, but particularly those, who like our beautiful daughter Nell, tragically lost their lives. The care and skill that has gone into the creation of this piece is quite extraordinary. We are truly honored to have been given it.  It represents the very best aspects of humanity and how a city, and our local community, stood strong in support, something for which we will always be grateful.”

This was also a special day for two other reasons. Mayor Andy Burnham was ‘fresh’ in from Boston, USA, where on Monday of this week in pretty awful weather conditions, he completed the Boston Marathon to raise funds for charities, including the Remembering Nell Foundation, set up in memory of those who lost their lives. Andy delighted supporters by bringing along a cheque for £1,100 which he handed over to the Chair of the charity, Nell’s eldest brother Sam Jones.

Left to Right - Andy Burnham, Sam Jones & Jayne Jones accept a donation following the Boston Marathon

Sam Jones said:

“Ever since that awful night, ‘Manchester’ has always offered us support in everything we have tried to do. So many people, places, organizations and particularly Andy, have gone out of their way to demonstrate the very best of human nature. However, 26.2 miles is above and beyond the call of duty for anyone and we can’t thank Andy enough for including us in fundraising effort, he should be very proud of what he has done”.

In the final part of the event, Mr Burnham then made a presentation on behalf of Nell’s charity to representatives of The Wood Street Mission (WSM).  Nell’s family were very keen to commemorate Nell’s 16th birthday by making a donation on her behalf to the Mission’s book appeal. With support from Nell’s friends at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, the charity provided 16 copies of 16 books most popularly read by 16 year olds that WSM will distribute as part of their supporting literacy programme as a way out of poverty for disadvantaged young people.

Left to Right - Andy Burnham, Des Walker & Jayne Jones presenting books to WSM appeal in memory of Nell at 16

Nell’s mum Jayne went on to explain:

“Nell loved school. She was always keen to learn and had a lovely group of close friends who she genuinely loved being around. She talked about the end of school proms right from day one at high school, it was something to look forward to. Obviously things changed forever that night but we have been very clear as a family that we must find ways for others to benefit from what happened as a true tribute to our Nell. She would have loved to think that for her 16th birthday that nearly 300 young people could be reading a book that she was able to give them. Thank you to everyone who has made a donation to our charity and for helping us to make a difference to the lives of others”

The tapestry will now be on public display in a prominent location the foyer of the Hilton Hotel, Deansgate, Manchester ahead of the second anniversary of the attack next month.

The Remembering Nell Foundation was set up Inspired by the loving memory of Nell Jones, age 14, who along with 21 others, tragically lost her life in the Manchester Arena Terrorist Attack on 22nd May 2017. Nell was a bright, caring, loving person and the foundation aims to form a positive legacy in her name. The overall aim of the charity is to ‘Improve the lives and and well being of disadvantaged young people across the North West’.

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