Ellie Youll is an eighteen year old waitress. Last year, she was caught up in the Manchester Arena bombing. This is her story.
‘When you’re in a terror attack, something inside you switches and your life changes forever’.
At 10:30PM on May 22 2017, Ellie had just attended an Ariana Grande concert, unaware that the show would dramatically alter her life – and in an hour, be the most talked about news story on the planet. Speaking in her bedroom, she recounts the night that twenty-two innocent civilians died in a place typically deemed a ‘safe environment’.
‘I was about to exit the arena with my sister when the bomb detonated – from the vibrations in the floor I knew something strange had happened, but just put it down to overzealous teenagers leaving their first show’.
Ellie rang her brother Charlie as she left the venue, and recalled joking how she initially thought everyone had dramatised a stage speaker exploding following Grande’s encore. However, their conversation was cut short when a woman needed to borrow Ellie’s phone to contact her daughter, and told him she would call again soon.
Charlie explained that his Twitter timeline was suddenly inundated with posts regarding a ‘loud bang’ being heard – but ‘didn’t realise the severity of the attack’ until a breaking news notification referring to it as a ‘serious incident’ interrupted his next conversation with Ellie.
Upon evacuating the venue, reality hit when Ellie turned onto Todd Street – it was ‘carnage’. She mentioned that it ‘all became real’ due to the sight of a girl her age ‘bleeding heavily from her leg, shrapnel hanging out of her wound’ – at that moment, she remembered ‘immediately’ hanging up the phone and ‘running for her life’ back to their hotel.
Speaking about the following day, Ellie looked unnerved as she thought about the ‘hundreds’ who contacted her overnight, leaving her ‘embarrassed’ that so many wanted to know intimate details about an experience she was still attempting to process herself.
‘One hundred people alone responded to a video I’d uploaded to my Snapchat account moments before the explosion, aiming to know anything they could discover. For instance, had I seen any dead bodies? How many injured attendees did I see? Was I coping with the trauma? I don’t think all these apparent ‘friends’ realised that they were making it a lot harder to process than it could have been.’
‘When a young person dies, you always see dozens of tributes online from people you never realised knew them – it’s probably because they didn’t. If I’d been killed that evening, I dread to think how many would’ve been posted about me, and it would have been the same ‘friends’ that haven’t spoken to me since the day after the attack’.
‘Over the last eighteen months, I’ve came to terms with the fact all those people were killed metres away from me, but it never truly gets easier. That night is a part of me, and it always will be’.
Charlie isn’t surprised Ellie came out the other side of the horror, stating that it ‘wasn’t the first time’ he had ‘seen her deal with a big problem head-on’.
‘You can knock her down nine times, but she’ll get up ten’.