The heartbroken father of the youngest victim of the Manchester terror attack has broken his silence to thank the public for their ‘amazing love and support’.
Saffie Roussos, eight, was one of 22 people who died as fans streamed out of the Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande pop concert on May 22.
The youngster was a huge fan of the US singer and had got tickets for the show as a Christmas present from her parents.
She was leaving the show with her sister and mother ‘happy and elated’ when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his homemade bomb in the arena’s foyer.
Saffie Roussos, eight, (pictured with her mother Lisa) was one of 22 people who died following the attack at Manchester Arena
Andrew Roussos (pictured) took to the stage to thank his local town after they showed his family support after what happened
Her mother Lisa, 48, was injured in the bomb blast and was taken to hospital unconscious and gravely ill.
She was heartbreakingly told her daughter had died moments after waking up from a coma. Saffie’s older sister Ashlee Bromwich, 26, was also injured.
A special pink star – Saffie’s favourite colour – was placed at the top of a communal Christmas tree in her hometown of Leyland, Lancashire, last weekend.
It was designed by the world-famous Blackpool Illuminations expert Richard Ryan and now shines extra bright as a tribute to the tragic schoolgirl.
Ahead of the switch-on by Coronation Street TV star Simon Gregson, who plays Steve McDonald, Saffie’s dad Andrew, 43, spoke to the local community.
He thanked the people of Leyland for their ‘absolutely amazing love and support’ and added: ‘Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts.’
Andrew Roussos carried his daughter’s coffin during her funeral at Manchester Cathedral in June
Mr Roussos (pictured with his son Xander, 11, and Saffie’s older sister Ashlee Bromwich) thanked the people of Leyland for their love
Mr Roussos previously described his beloved daughter as a girl who wanted to be famous and loved the limelight.
The Roussos family have now moved away from Leyland to ‘start a new life’ after reluctantly selling their Plaice Fish Shop.
Saffie’s family hope the new owners will rename it ‘Saffie’s Plaice’, cementing the legacy of their daughter in the local community.
Close family friend Mike Swanson explained that while the country might have moved on, the Roussos’ grief was still fresh.
He said: ‘They have moved away from Leyland. It’s extremely hard, people chat to you daily about it, you can’t get away from it.
‘They moved out of the area now for a new life, a new start, a new chapter, but they are all positive, strong and safe.’
Speaking ahead of the switch-on, Mike spoke of how the family was managing, with Lisa still undergoing hospital treatment and Saffie’s brother Xander, 10, moving school.
Saffie (pictured) was leaving the show with her sister and mother ‘happy and elated’ when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his homemade bomb
He added: ‘Lisa is doing fine, operations are still on-going but she is out of the worst. I was walking up and down the beach with her the other day.
‘It’s not brilliant but we are getting there. She’s still unwell, she’s got some work to do. It’s been a hell of a long six months, I think we are all knackered.
‘Andrew is still a rock – even for me, he’s that kind of man. He’s brilliant, he’s done really well to get his family back in order. I think the whole family looks to him for strength.
‘Xander’s settled into his new school already.’
Saffie’s sister paid a heartrending tribute to the eight-year-old Manchester bombing victim at her funeral back in July.
Hundreds of mourners arrived at Manchester Cathedral for the youngster’s funeral.
A pre-inquest hearing on Friday into all the deaths was adjourned until June 15 next year.