Outrage as memorial dedicated to victim of Manchester Arena attack set on fire

Written by Sam Gilder

Residents of Arbourthorne are outraged after a bench dedicated to a victim of the Manchester Arena bombings was set alight on Saturday evening.

The memorial was dedicated to Kelly Brewster, who died shielding her 11-year-old niece from the terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.

The bench sat outside the Arbourthorne Tenants and Residents Association (TARA) building on East Bank Road where, before the Covid-19 pandemic, many important community and social events took place.

South Yorkshire Police said officers were alerted to the incident by the National Police Air Service, who saw smoke rising from the building at around 5.40pm.

As a result of the attempt to put out the flames, there was water damage to the roof, interior and flooring of the building.

Tracy Brady, treasurer of TARA, said: “The committee are very upset about the vandalism and complete destruction of a memorial bench which also caused considerable damage to the social centre.”

Residents expressed their disdain in the comments section of a video of the incident, posted on Sheffield Online’s Facebook page:

“Absolutely disgusting act. Whoever has done this should be ashamed of themselves.”

“Appalling – as if the family haven’t been through enough already.”

“Words fail to describe the upmost disrespectful act of vandalism to the bench dedicated to the memory of Kelly.”

It is clear those in Sheffield are horrified by the act, with Park and Arbourthorne Labour Councillor, Ben Miskell, echoing their sentiments.

“It’s really disappointing to see this arson attack of Arbourthorne Tara, which is really an attack on our community as a whole,” he said.

The destruction of the bench and TARA building holds both personal and communal significance.

Coun Miskell said: “Those responsible should be ashamed of themselves. Not only have they destroyed a bench dedicated to a young woman who tragically lost her life in a terror attack, but they have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to a well-loved Community Centre.”

South Yorkshire Police believe this was not a deliberate targeted act of damage to the bench, but it has been extremely upsetting for the family and they want to ensure those responsible are found.

PC Leigh Jenkinson, from the Sheffield South East Neighbourhood team, said: “We are committed to finding those responsible for this mindless act of vandalism.”

Anyone with information is urged to call 101, quoting incident number 716 of 6 March 2021, or call crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. (Image credit: GMP/PA)

Written by Sam Gilder

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