The bombing at and Ariana Grande concert back in May of last year opened up an outpouring of tributes to the 23 people who were killed in the blast. 300,000 bouquets of flowers and 2,000 teddy bears were piled outside of the arena. The display was epic, and touching, but officials began to wonder how to respectfully handle the growing pile of objects.
Something had to be done with the growing tribute in St Ann’s Square in Manchester. The flowers were rotting and the teddy bears were suffering from the exposure.
The Manchester city decided to support the efforts of volunteers who were taking the teddy bears to local kids in need.
“The teddy bears were removed from the bed of tributes by more than 100 volunteers,” The Guardian writes. “The Manchester-based shoe-repairers Timpson offered to store the bears and dry them out.”
The bears were washed, dried, and sorted. Those needing repairs were touched up by Women’s Institute members.
Judith Suckling, vice-president of Old Trafford Wonder Women WI, spoke to the Guardian about the effort. “As an organization we really wanted to do anything we could to help after the bomb and were honored to be asked to help with the bears.
“It was very moving for all of us, knowing the bears’ history and why they had been left on the square, and then wanting to do our own bit to clean them and give them a future – to restore them back to being bears of happiness again for another child, instead of sadness.”
The flowers were gathered to be composted. Many had messages with them, which are being archived. Some of the potted plants were able to be saved. There were also hundreds of candles that are now in storage.
“We’re determined this horrific event that has both devastated and touched the lives of so many people shall not be forgotten, and nor will those who died or were injured,” Sue Murphy, the deputy leader of Manchester city council, said.
“The amount of love and feeling invested in each and every one of the teddies and other tributes left on St Ann’s Square could be felt by everyone who saw them, and absolutely no one could have failed to have been moved by them.
“Whilst we will never forget what has happened, it’s important that we also start to look towards the future. Moving on this huge family of teddies that were left with such feeling and amongst much sadness on St Ann’s Square for other children now to enjoy and to cherish is a big part of this.”