After weeks of speculation, it was confirmed today that American pop star Ariana Grande has become the first honorary citizen of Manchester, as a thank you and tribute to her response to the terror attack at her concert in the city back in May which killed 22.
After holding a special meeting which was attended by family members of some of the victims of the tragedy and began with a moment’s reflection in their memory, councillors this morning unanimously accepted a proposal for the singer to be the first recipient in a new system designed to recognise those who have made an incredible contribution to the city without residing in it.
Grande, 23, who is still on her Dangerous Woman world tour, organised the One Love Manchester concert just two weeks after the attack, and the show, which saw acts including Katy Perry, Coldplay and Justin Bieber all perform for a global audience of millions, has so far raised close to £3m for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, with the grand total currently standing at more than £12m.
Commenting that it would have been understandable if Grande had never returned to the city after the attack, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese added:
“But no – instead she, as an artist, a performer, was determined that she would not perform again until she had returned to Manchester to perform. In doing so, she brought comfort to thousands, she raised millions for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund and became the first patron of that fund.”
He went on to add that the star exemplified the:
“…resilient and compassionate way in which the city, and all those associated with it, have responded to the terrible events of 22 May – with love and courage rather than hatred and fear. Manchester continues to move forwards with strength, spirit and its trademark swagger. But we will never forget the terrible events of 22 May and their aftermath. As well as honouring the victims and all those affected, it is important that we remember the extraordinary acts of courage and generosity of spirit which we have witnessed. The worst of times have in many ways brought out the best in the city.”
Reaction to the news of Ariana’s honorary citizenship has been immensely positive with scores of fans taking to Twitter to share their delight:
Ariana herself later responded to the news via a post on her Instagram: