Thousands of runners mark the fifth anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing

Survivors of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack and Mayor Andy Burnham are among those marking the fifth anniversary of the tragedy before leading a 10K race through the city.

More than 20,000 racers of Sunday’s Great Manchester Run applaud the 22 victims before the starting gun as church bells chime at 10:31pm – the time a bomb detonated at the Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.

The day marks the first time in three years that people in Manchester have been able to celebrate the anniversary free from coronavirus restrictions.

Freya Lewis (left) with Jenny Grant (right), a nurse who helped with her injuries, speaking at a service to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS at Westminster Abbey in July 2018 (Tolga Akmen/PA)

(PA Archive)

Freya Lewis, 19, who learned to walk again after multiple injuries, fractures and burns in the bombing, will race for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital charity that saved her life.

Ms Lewis, who used a wheelchair for three months, and whose best friend Nell Jones, then 14, was killed in the attack, has raised more than £67,000 with her family since the attack.

Greater Manchester Mayor Mr Burnham is also raising money for hospitals in the city and will be working with a team of NHS workers.

The Labor mayor said in a tweet: “Five years ago I visited the MRI and Wythenshawe Hospital after the arena bombing and saw the dedicated care of NHS staff to the victims.

“Five years later I’m doing the #GreatManchesterRun for @MFT_Charity to show we appreciate everything they did then and since.”

Event organizers have said model Ferne McCann will be walking for the Dogs Trust charity alongside Coronation Street actors Adam Blease, who plays Dirk, and Sally-Anne Matthews, who appears as Jenny Bradley.

Memorial services are also held at the Glade of Light Memorial in the city center, while the bells of nearby Manchester Cathedral chime at 10.31pm, marking the time of the attack.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially opened the permanent memorial earlier this month.

The Glade of Light Memorial (Jon Super/PA)

(PA wire)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the courage shown by the people of Manchester in the days after the attack “touched the world” as he paid tribute to the victims.

He said: “Like the country, my thoughts are with the victims, families and friends of everyone affected by the cowardly attack on the Manchester Arena five years ago today.

“This was an act of terror against the freedoms we all hold dear, but as the people of Manchester demonstrated so bravely over the following days, hate will never prevail.

“The bravery and defiance of the people of Mancun touched the world, and as we remember all those taken from us, we must remember and celebrate this triumph of love and community.”

Half a decade ago, thousands of children and parents enjoyed an Ariana Grande concert at the arena.

Surrounded by a crowd of youngsters leaving the gig, Manchester-born Salman Abedi, 22, detonated his shrapnel-packed backpack bomb, sending thousands of nuts and bolts shredding everything in its path.

Hundreds of others were injured along with the 22 bystanders killed, including six children. Thousands of runners mark the fifth anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing

Bobby Allyn

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