Highlands & Islands

Manchester attack: Remembering Barra's Eilidh MacLeod

Eilidh MacLeod Image copyright Eilidh MacLeod Family
Image caption Eilidh MacLeod was among the 22 people killed in last year's attack

Residents of Barra have told how the community was brought closer together following the death a young islander in the Manchester Arena attack a year ago.

Eilidh MacLeod, 14, was one of the 22 people killed by a terrorist's bomb following an Ariana Grande concert.

Her friend Laura MacIntyre survived but was badly injured.

Barra parish priest, Father John Paul MacKinnon, said: "The island just does what it does, it comes together. It unites."

Eilidh's parents were expected to attend a remembrance service at Manchester Cathedral.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince William were among those who joined families of victims at the service.

It was shown on a big screen at other venues around the UK, including Glasgow Cathedral.

Image copyright Laura MacIntyre family
Image caption Eilidh's friend Laura MacIntyre was badly injured in the attack

Eilidh and her friend Laura both attended Castlebay Community School in Castlebay, Barra, and shared a keen interest in music.

Eilidh's love of music included playing the pipes with Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band.

The two friends were attending the Grande concert with thousands of other pop music fans, having travelled to Manchester for the event with members of their family.

Father MacKinnon said that following news of the attack there had been a sense of dread in the community.

He said: "I felt in my own heart that something bad was just about to come.

"And it did, and it was devastating."

Image caption Father John Paul MacKinnon said Barra faced the tragedy as a united community

Father MacKinnon said Eilidh had lived her life "with a smile on her face and a smile in her heart".

He said: "Those 14 years were short, but filled with so much. Here on the island we never take for granted the years we have."

The priest added: "We have faced tragedy and we face it the same way we always do it, together."

He described Laura's recovery from her injuries as "remarkable" and said: "We all prayed for a miracle with Laura."

Image caption Annag MacLean said people across the Western Isles rallied behind Barra

Annag MacLean, former head teacher at Castlebay Community School, said the loss of Eilidh and the injuring of Laura had a massive impact on the school.

She said: "It was a horrendous situation to be in for anybody, for any school, for any family, for any community.

"Routine gets people through those awful times because you practically do those things on automatic pilot.

"We tried to keep things as normal as they could possibly be in such horrendous circumstances."

She said other communities in the islands rallied behind Barra, adding: "As for our own community we did what Barra always does, we pulled together around the families involved."

Image caption Father MacKinnon said Eilidh had a smile on her face and a smile in her heart

More on this story