Banbury stands as one for Manchester

Banbury memorial for Manchester. NNL-170531-101911009
Banbury memorial for Manchester. NNL-170531-101911009
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Banbury residents showed their support for the victims of the Manchester terror attack with a vigil held in the Market Square.

Dozens of people gathered for a show of unity on Saturday and to remember those who lost their lives in the explosion at the Manchester Arena on May 23.

People gathered in Banbury's Market Place to pay their respects to the victims of the Mamchester terror attack NNL-170530-101110001

People gathered in Banbury's Market Place to pay their respects to the victims of the Mamchester terror attack NNL-170530-101110001

Banbury Town councillors, district councillors, police representatives and many people wearing Manchester team football shirts congregated in the market place for a two minute and 22 second silence.

The event was a perfect illustration of the power of social media as it was hastily organised in just two days by Neil Johnson for the sole reason that it was ‘just something that must be done’.

Mr Johnson sounded the start of the silence with a bell and afterwards he said: “It was good to see councillors and police. It was short notice obviously but it was a very good turn out and a good show of what Banbury can do.”

A board with ‘Manchester’ printed upon it surrounded by the Union Jack flag was placed by a wall and people took a moment by the makeshift memorial to lay flowers or silently pray.

One woman, who did not want to be named, said: “Nothing will bring back the victims but I hope showing support and that we are all feeling some of their pain helps a little.

“I think the silence was a good idea but you would rather not have to do this sort of thing. It’s a real tragedy.”

The vigil was one of dozens held around the country in the aftermath of the attack, many raising thousands of pounds for the victims’ families.

Banbury’s religious leaders also came together in a show of unity and released a powerful message condemning the attacks. It read: “The terrible and barbaric events that took place in Manchester last Monday were the work of evil people, who have no mercy or love for humanity.

“We, the leaders of the Muslim and Christian communities in and around Banbury are committed to building a safe and peaceful community together in our neighbourhoods.

“We join in condemning violent extremism, whether in the name of religion or politics, and together we will play our part in building a better shared future for all those amongst whom we live.”

Banbury Mosque on Merton Street also opened up its doors for a free tour and information session so people could learn about the true meaning of the Islamic faith and bring Banbury residents together.

The mosque has been running tours for groups for a number of years and anyone interested in attending can contact Anser Hussain via Facebook to organise it and find out more details.