Teen sweethearts’ tragic legacy
CHLOE Rutherford and Liam Curry had everything to live for. The young couple had stars in their eyes - but that all changed a year ago in one explosive moment.
Ms Rutherford, 17, and Mr Curry, 19, were among the 22 people killed in the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena, where thousands of people were attending an Ariana Grande concert on May 22 last year.
Grande's show had just finished, and attendees were heading toward the exits, when Salman Abedi, a British man of Libyan heritage, blew himself up outside the venue with a homemade device, killing 22 people and injuring as many as 800 more.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast and an investigation into how the attack came about is still ongoing.
In the frantic few hours after the bombing, pictures of Ms Rutherford and Mr Curry smiling were shared by frantic loved ones on social media in the hope they were safe somewhere.
Tragically, they weren't. Now a year after they were killed, their families have spoken about the trust they have started they hope will help other young people fulfil the dreams that Ms Rutherford and Mr Curry had savagely taken away from them.
They have set up the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust to support talented youngsters wanting to explore their passions in music and sport.
Ms Rutherford was studying music and had auditioned on The X-Factor, hoping to be a singer or a music teacher, while Mr Curry was studying sports science at university and loved playing cricket.
Chloe's mum Lisa Rutherford,47, told The Sun; "Liam and Chloe's dreams were stolen from them before they could make them come true. They were born to be together and we want to do everything we can to ensure their love lives on for ever more."
Along with Chloe's dad Mark, also 47, and Mr Curry's mum Caroline Curry they are running the trust, determined to honour their children's lives and ensure they won't be forgotten.
"After Liam and Chloe died we were overwhelmed with how many people contacted us offering to raise or donate money in their honour," Mrs Rutherford told The Sun.
"Even strangers were messaging us saying they wanted to do something. We wanted to do something with all that generosity and the idea for the trust came to us almost straight away.
"So we are raising money to help promising musicians and athletes of any age.
"The amount we donate varies, but we are already helping a talented ballet dancer with his tuition fees and we are also funding a talented archer so he can buy the equipment he needs.
Neither the Rutherfords nor Mrs Curry attended the service in Manchester to honour those killed in the attack, instead deciding to stay in their home town of South Shields.
They did so, as thousands of locals were expected to wear the blue and pink colours associated with the Trust as they gathered at the local town hall to remember them.
They had a simple message for those gathered there: don't think about the atrocity that took them, but about the happy lives they led.
Mrs Rutherford told the Shields Gazette: "Chloe and Liam loved a selfie. You really don't understand just how precious pictures like that are until they are no longer here."
The anniversary had invoked painful emotions: "The longer it goes on, the realisation they are not coming back starts to become more and more real. I'm still looking for them, it's like they are away on some journey.
"Everything we are doing with the Trust and the support we are receiving is helping to keep us focused."
Mrs Curry said the anniversary was really just a date - she needed no reminding her son was gone forever.
"We don't need Tuesday to know Chloe and Liam are no longer with us. The date is irrelevant. Every day is like May 22nd for us. We go to sleep, they're not here, we wake up and their beds are empty. We live every day with the pain of what happened, which is why we wanted to turn something which was so horrific and so painful into something positive like the Trust."
A national minute of silence was held at 2.30pm on Tuesday afternoon in the UK, after a memorial service in Manchester Cathedral.
Ariana Grande tweeted: "I love you with all of me and am sending you all of the light and warmth I have to offer on this challenging day."
Her post included an emoji of a bee, which became a symbol of unity and defiance after the attack.
The singer is much loved in Manchester for the response to the attack that she quickly organised, the One Love benefit concert held less than two weeks later.
The benefit, which was broadcast live throughout the world, brought together survivors and others to hear performers such as Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher.
Residents of Manchester and elsewhere paid tribute on Tuesday to the victims, expressing support on social media or laying flowers in memory of those who died, many of whom were teenagers enjoying a night out.
The youngest person killed in the blast was eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, whose father wants to organise another concert in aid of victims of other or future terrorist attacks.
"Losing your eight-year-old child has changed life forever. It'll never be OK again," Andrew Roussos told the BBC. "I want to celebrate my daughter. She was full of life. She loved music."
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted: "Today we come together, we remember each of the 22 people whose lives were taken."
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince William joined families of the victims at the service at Manchester Cathedral. Also attending were first responders, civic leaders and some of the injured.
"The targeting of the young and innocent as they enjoyed a carefree night out... was an act of sickening cowardice," Theresa May wrote in the city's local paper the Manchester Evening News.
"It was designed to strike at the heart of our values and our way of life in one of our most vibrant cities, with the aim of breaking our resolve and dividing us. It failed."
The bombing was one of a spate of terrorist attacks to hit Britain last year - one in Manchester and four in London - that included bombings and deadly violence with vehicles and knives.
Additional reporting: Reuters