Father describes horror of getting caught up in Manchester attack

James Harrison

A father has spoken of the carnage and panic at the Manchester bombing – and his relief at discovering his daughter was safe.

Alan Gullick was with wife Sarah waiting for 14-year-old Lauren when the blast tore through the Manchester Arena on Monday.

The former Maidenhead couple, who met in the town in 1997 and married in 2000, were just 10-15 yards from the explosion at the Ariana Grande concert which killed 22 and injured dozens more.

“As we were waiting there was a huge flash of light, followed by a bang and a shockwave and glass flying everywhere,” said the 45-year-old father-of-two.

“Sarah and I were knocked off our feet and by the time we came round, we could see ash in the air and stuff burning as it was falling – clearly, something had exploded.”

Ex-Newlands Girls’ School pupil Sarah was unharmed, while Alan, a former player and manager for the Maidenhead Nomads football team, had a superficial shrapnel wound in his left hip, an outcome he says he still can’t believe, considering how close they were.

After forcing their way into the main auditorium in search of their daughter and her friend, they were confronted by a scene of bloodied bodies, before being ushered to the exits by stewards.

Soon after Mr Gullick was able to contact Lauren, who had been in a different part of the arena at the time of the blast, by phone and arranged to meet at the family’s car nearby.

The pair, who still have family in Bourne End and Langley, had bought her the concert tickets for Christmas.

IT service manager, Mr Gullick, who previously worked for HMRC in its old Bell Street office, said: “We had no idea about the stadium layout. We knew what block she was in, but not if she was close to the foyer.

“We were just trying to find out where she was and that was my only thought. I knew something had exploded and there was a lot of debris, but our thought was – find the kids and get out.

“When I saw the carnage and the bodies on the floor you think it’s probably an attack and then you think, is there a second attack coming, whether it’s another bomb or a gunman?

“We had no idea what was going on.”

Leaving as an ‘army of police and ambulances’ arrived, they got back to their home in Brackenhall, Huddersfield, where they have lived since leaving Maidenhead in 2002, by about midnight.

Although thankful to have escaped largely unscathed, all three have been left shaken and nervous by the ordeal.

Mr Gullick added: “I think some of the stuff I’ve seen you can’t un-see and I still think about it now.

“I don’t think the experience of the blast will ever leave me.

“I think over time I will be able to deal with it and I’m hoping at some point I will be able to forget and put it out of my mind, but I’m really not sure.”


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