A mother and daughter injured in the Manchester Arena bomb attack said it was an “absolute honour and a privilege” to be asked to help present an award to the medics who battled to save them.
Ruth and Emily Murrell, of Copster Green, stood alongside other survivors of the horrific attack, as HRH Prince William presented a Pride of Britain Award to the medics who worked tirelessly through the night in the aftermath of the atrocity.
“It was an absolute honour and privilege to be asked to do it,” said Ruth. “We decided that we wanted to do it in honour of the 22 who lost their lives and we are determined to live our lives in memory of them.”
Ruth and Emily were asked by the director of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, alongside other survivors who had been treated there, to help present the award.
Both Ruth (47) and Emily, who turned 13 a couple of weeks ago and is a pupil at St Augustine’s RC High School at Billington, were overwhelmed by the experience – particularly meeting Prince William and all the celebrities at the ceremony to honour the UK’s unsung heroes.
Emily missed out on meeting The Queen when she visited the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital following the attack in May as she was undergoing surgery.
Ruth, who was also recovering in the hospital at the same time after being hit by shrapnel in the bombing, spoke to the monarch in Emily’s absence.
“Prince William knew that Emily had missed out on meeting The Queen and spent quite a lot of time talking to us at the awards,” Ruth said.
She added that appearing at the Pride of Britain Awards had been a “hugely emotional” experience.
“We hadn’t done any interviews prior to this because what happened was still too raw, but we saw it as an opportunity to thank all those in the emergency services and the medics. The ultimate decision was Emily’s and she really wanted the chance to thank everyone.”
Ruth and Emily, who travelled to London for the awards, joined a host of celebrities on the red carpet.
“As we got off the coach, Kate Garraway was in front of us, Liam Pane and Petre Andre were also there, it was just surreal,” said Ruth.
“It was even more overwhelming once we got on to the stage as they were playing Liam Gallagher singing ‘Don’t look Back in Anger’ – we all just burst into tears.”
During the awards, Ruth and Emily sat next to the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, met singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, singer and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Alexandra Burke, and reality TV star and presenter Scarlett Moffatt, to name just a few.
“Emily was particularly emotional when she met Ed Sheeran and just burst into tears,” said Ruth.
“It was so lovely to stand with all the medics and to have a chat with them afterwards.”
Ruth’s consultant, Mr Wong, was there as was one of the theatre nurses.
Alongside those who were present at the Pride of Britain Awards, Ruth said herself and her husband Dave (48), Emily and their family, which includes daughter Jessica (15), who is also a pupil at St Augustine’s, and eldest daughter Abigail (24), also wanted to express their deepest thanks to all the other people who have helped them during their ongoing recovery.
These include the district nurses from Blackburn, the physiotherapists at Clitheroe Hospital, friends, neighbours and relatives, local GPs, plus representatives from Blackburn Hospital School who came out to teach Emily lessons in the summer during her recovery.
“We would also like to thank our amazing family liaison officer Deborah Sethi and Mark Whittaker, who is the Nest Lancashire victim support officer for children,” said Ruth.
“All these people have been there for us every step of the way through our recovery. Once we no longer had the comfort blanket of hospital they have been there to pluck us from the deepest darkest depths of despair and have supported us throughout during our ongoing recovery at home.”
Ruth and Emily were both in hospital for six weeks and between them have had 10 operations to remove shrapnel from their bodies.
During the bombing, a bolt travelled 15cms through Ruth’s leg while Emily suffered seven shrapnel wounds from flying debris.
Emily still wears a pressure boot to repair the bones in her leg and ankle which were shattered and Ruth is still receiving treatment to repair two holes in her leg.
Both diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, Ruth and Emily are still undergoing counselling.
“It’s the guilt that’s the worst, that we survived and others didn’t,” said Ruth, who is still not well enough to return to her job as a doctor’s receptionist.
“We still can’t go into Manchester and we suffer panic attacks in crowded places. We don’t even like going to the cinema. It has affected our lives in ways that nobody can imagine and it’s still ongoing,” said Ruth. “That’s why attending the awards was so important as it’s one for the happy memories box.”