Inspirational Freya Lewis underwent 60 hours of surgery and learned to walk again following the Manchester Arena attack.
Even though the teenager, from Holmes Chapel, spent five-and-a-half weeks in hospital, and took her first difficult steps three months after the Ariana Grande concert, she took part in the Mini Great Manchester Run in May 2018, raising money for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH).
Due to her hard work, Freya, 15, was presented with The Young Fundraiser Award at the NHS Heroes Awards in May. Her achievements are even more remarkable when taking into account the unimaginable heartbreak of losing her friend Nell Jones, 14, who died in the attack.
Freya, who benefited from the public’s generosity via the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, said: “I’ve been working with my personal trainer, going on the treadmill and lifting things with weights, to make my arms stronger.
“It was quite tiring at first, I wasn’t used to that type of exercise before May 22 2017, so it’s been quite intense and hard, but has definitely got a lot easier.”
Dad Nick described what happened on May 22 as an ‘unimaginable situation’ and praised the public for their support and RMCH and its staff, who cared for his daughter.
“We’ve got Freya here with us because of RMCH, they saved her life. RMCH is a fantastic place. Anything we can do to help patients and staff in the future, we will do.
“We will continue to fundraise for the hospital charity and do whatever we can to support them, we will be forever grateful to them.
“The first three months were absolute hell. It was beyond words. But Freya remained positive all the way through, and she pulled us through it.
“We are so incredibly proud of Freya. She amazes us more with every passing day. You realise you won’t be the same again, none of us will, but we don’t look backwards, we only look forwards.
“It is impossible for us to thank everyone that we would like to individually for all of their support, which has come in a wide variety of forms, and often from people from whom we would not expect.
“The Manchester Arena attack represented the very darkest side of humanity, but it has given us the opportunity to witness the very best it has to offer.
“The world is full of some very special people, and they have been there when we most needed them.”
Ariana Grande visited Freya in hospital and the singer sat at Freya’s bedside, watching videos and laughing.
Nick said Freya’s time with the American superstar was something they would ‘never forget’.
“Ariana was simply wonderful,” he said.“Handling this dreadful situation must be incredibly difficult for someone so young, and the way that she is dealing with it is a credit to her. Her time with Freya is something she we will all never forget. She watched videos of Freya from before the bombing and they laughed so much together.”
Watch this video from the Manchester Evening News: