I lost my best pal in blast but hate can’t win.. I’ll take in her girl and love her like my own

Irish Sunday Mirror - - NEWS - GERAL­DINE MCKELVIE

A HEROIC sur­vivor of the Manch­ester ter­ror at­tack has taken in the daugh­ter of her best friend, who died in the blast.

Caro­line Davies, 39, will raise Wendy Fawell’s 15-year-old daugh­ter Char­lotte as her own.

The women were work­mates, hol­i­dayed to­gether and felt close enough to be sis­ters.

And this ul­ti­mate act of friend­ship has shone a bea­con of light amid the dark­ness of the bomb at­tack. Caro­line said: “I’ll never re­place Wendy but I will al­ways be there for Char­lotte. I’d do any­thing for her and I’ll love her like she is my own. I don’t want to let hate win.”

Char­lotte, who for­mally iden­ti­fied her tragic mum’s body, said: “Caro­line has al­ready been like a sec­ond mum to me so I know she will look af­ter me.”

Through tears, Caro­line also re­vealed how:

She feels wracked with guilt af­ter buy­ing the con­cert tick­ets.

Wendy, 50, had shrugged off ill­ness to drive the kids to the gig.

The two pals had en­joyed a cof­fee and win­dow shop­ping in the hours be­fore the blast.

Fate had cru­elly placed her at the spot where Sal­man Abedi det­o­nated his dev­as­tat­ing nail bomb.

Char­lotte had to break the news of Wendy’s death to Caro­line.

Wendy was es­tranged from her hus­band so Char­lotte and her brother Adam, 29, face the ag­o­nis­ing task of plan­ning their mum’s fu­neral.

Char­lotte was at the Ari­ana Grande con­cert with Caro­line’s sons Ben, 12, and Lee, 16 – her boyfriend. She is now be­ing looked af­ter by the Davies fam­ily in Ot­ley, West Yorks, and said: “Iden­ti­fy­ing mum’s body hit me re­ally hard as that’s when I re­alised she wasn’t com­ing home. Even when I was told she’d gone I guess I still hoped there had been a mis­take.

“But see­ing her body, I re­alised she wasn’t com­ing back with us.

“It scared me, be­cause she is my best friend and has al­ways been there for me. She was amaz­ing and she’d al­ways put oth­ers be­fore her­self. But I know Caro­line’s

fam­ily will be a sec­ond fam­ily to me – they’ve done so much for my mum and me. They are ev­ery­thing to me.”

Caro­line, who spent three nights in hos­pi­tal in Old­ham, said: “I have cried so much – and partly be­cause I feel guilty for buy­ing the tick­ets. I wish I had never bought them.”

Ill health al­most pre­vented Wendy driv­ing the kids to the con­cert. She had col­lapsed af­ter suf­fer­ing a stom­ach ul­cer and spent a night in hos­pi­tal. But she was a more con­fi­dent driver than Caro­line and was de­ter­mined to do her bit.

Dur­ing the gig school lunchtime

su­per­vi­sors Wendy and Caro­line en­joyed a cof­fee and browsed the shops. Caro­line, also mum to Ai­den, eight, said: “We were hav­ing such a gig­gle, look­ing at the over­priced bags and scarves in Har­vey Ni­chols.”

At 10.30pm, they were ready and wait­ing for the kids in the foyer at Manch­ester Arena.

Caro­line said: “Wendy sug­gested she should wait by a dif­fer­ent door as we didn’t know which exit the chil­dren would come out of. She’d just be­gun to walk away from me – she was just yards away – when the ex­plo­sion hap­pened. When I came round, there were dead peo­ple and bits of flesh all around me.

SCREAM­ING

“I was scream­ing, ‘Wendy, where are you?’ I couldn’t see her any­where.”

Caro­line got a call from Lee and was helped to the chil­dren’s side by a po­lice of­fi­cer. She said: “I hugged them all but I was still cry­ing be­cause I was so wor­ried about Wendy.”

Caro­line was treated at the Royal Old­ham Hos­pi­tal for a shat­tered el­bow, a shrap­nel wound on her leg, a hole in her heel, a cut to her head and ex­ten­sive bruis­ing.

Yet her own pain has come sec­ond to the grief she has felt at the loss of her best friend.

She said: “When we got to Wed­nes­day and Wendy still hadn’t been found, I guess I knew it wouldn’t be good news.

“Then po­lice told Char­lotte and Adam to pre­pare for the worst. It was Char­lotte who broke the news to me. I am just go­ing to be there for her un­til she needs me.”

Wendy had told fam­ily that when she died she wanted her ashes split­ting – half in a Jack Daniels whiskey bot­tle and the rest scat­tered on Lyme Regis beach in Dorset – her favourite hol­i­day spot.

Char­lotte said: “One day, I hope to get mar­ried there, so that way we will be to­gether. I’ll keep the other half with me so I can be close to her.”

And Caro­line added: “No mat­ter what hap­pens, we’ll never for­get Wendy.”

geral­dine.mckelvie@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

Pic­ture: JOHN GLADWIN

GIG FUN Char­lotte with Lee, left, and Ben at con­cert GRIEV­ING TO­GETHER Caro­line and Char­lotte, whose mum died in the ter­ror at­tack

PROUD MUM Wendy with her daugh­ter Char­lotte LIKE SIS­TERS Caro­line and best friend Wendy

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