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