New homes for teddy bears left as tributes to Manchester Arena bombing victims
Almost 2,000 teddy bears left as tributes to children and others killed in the Manchester Arena bombing are to go to new homes with needy youngsters.
The teddies and soft toys carpeted St Ann's Square in the city centre, all left in heartfelt remembrance of the 22 innocent victims of the terror attack on May 22.
This week they will be distributed to children via charities in Greater Manchester, including Wood Street Mission and The Toy Appeal, and also by Bearly Loved and The Teddy Trust which work internationally.
They had been left in the square as long as was possible out of respect to all those affected by the bomb, before being removed by a volunteer workforce.
Manchester based shoe-makers Timpsons stepped forward, storing all the items until they dried out before an army of volunteers from the Women's Institute (WI) washed them all and repaired individual teddies ready for their new homes.
Judith Suckling, vice president, Old Trafford Wonder Women WI, said: "As an organisation we really wanted to do anything we could to help after the bomb and were honoured to be asked to help with the bears.
"It was very moving for all of us, knowing the bears' history and why they had been left on the square, and then wanting to do our own bit to clean them and give them a future - to restore them back to being bears of happiness again for another child instead of sadness."
Suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people, seven of them aged under 18 and the youngest just eight, after he detonated his home-made device as fans streamed out of the Arena following an Ariana Grande pop concert on May 22.
Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader, Manchester City Council, said: "Whilst we will never forget what has happened, it's important that we also start to look towards the future. Moving on this huge family of teddies that were left with such feeling and amongst much sadness on St Ann's Square for other children now to enjoy and to cherish is a big part of this."