Ticket mix up could have saved teenage pals lives
A twist of fate could have saved the lives of two teenage best pals who were in the audience at Manchester's MEN arena when the bomb blast ripped through the venue.
For a ticket mix up saw Alexander Pemberton and Jessica McGlinchey in the wrong seats for the Ariana Grande concert, on the opposite side of where the bomb exploded.
Alexander (19) of Brierfield, said: "If it wasn't for the confusion over the tickets we would have been right next to the exit where the bomb exploded.
"We were in the wrong seats and it could have saved our lives."
Alexander had bought the tickets as an early 19th birthday gift for Jessica, a former student at Sir John Thursby Community College in Burnley and talented vocalist herself, as they are both huge fans of the popular singer.
They were preparing to leave the venue with the thousands of other fans when the bomb exploded in the area just outside the arena, causing mayhem and mass panic as people flooded back into the concert hall.
Alexander added: "We heard a massive explosion and then for a few seconds there was a deathly silence before people just started screaming, crying and running.
"We were near to the top of the one of the exit tunnels so I leaned over the edge and just shouted for people to keep moving out of the arena."
The duo, who met at Burnley's BASICS Junior Theatre School, managed to get out of the arena and started to help the dozens of children and young people outside, many of whom were wandering around dazed and in shock.
Alexander said: "Jess said I want to go and help them so we tried to offer comfort and help them to keep calm. It was all we could do at that stage."
The pals then made their way out of the city centre where they sought refuge in a McDonald's restaurant with other survivors.
Alexander, a former student at Burnley's Blessed Trinity RC College in Burnley, said: "We saw a mum with her daughter, who was about eight, and both of them were covered in blood although it wasn't theirs
"It was at that point the reality of what had just happened to us sank in, it was a very emotional moment."
Alexander, who works as a children's play area supervisor at the Queen Victoria pub in Burnley, said he felt angry that bag searches were not carried out as gig goers entered the arena,
He said: "They just wanted to see the tickets as we entered, they weren't really bothered about checking our bags
"I know the man responsible did not enter the arena but when the UK is now on critical alert for another attack surely security measures across the board should be tighter than ever?"