We stand together with those suffering in Manchester.
It’s no glib statement. This barbaric attack may have happened in a city many miles away, but it has deeply affected everyone in our community.
This is an attack that has claimed the lives of children not by accident, but by design.
The suicide bomber knew exactly who would bear the brunt of the explosion – innocent young children and their families.
The pictures of the carnage at Manchester Arena are in stark contrast to the images of the victims already emerging.
Those innocent faces could be any of the children in our community, in our family.
Ordinary people cannot begin to fathom what drives a person to look at those faces and seek to destroy them.
If we are to cling to anything from this monstrous act, it perhaps should be the outpouring of goodness and compassion that followed.
The inhumanity of this atrocity is more than matched by the humanity of the response.
Emergency teams rushing to danger to help the stricken; ordinary people opening their doors to take in lost and bewildered victims; drivers racing to the scene to ferry people home; hotel bosses giving free rooms for the night; folk heading to the arena to do what they could to help.
That response is not a Manchester response, it’s the human response to terror from a society that values life and people.
It could happen here and we know the response would be the same.
This was a vile attack on our way of life, and for all it has hurt, terrorism will not win. We won’t allow it.
We stand together against this evil.