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Manchester concert attack

Gina Callander loved Ariana Grande and she perished at her concert in Manchester

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 7:41am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 7:41am

Georgina “Gina” Callander had been counting down the days until Ariana Grande’s Manchester show for weeks on social media.

When the date finally arrived in June, 2015, Callander - a bespectacled 16-year-old with a bright smile from Tarleton in Lancashire, England - not only got to see Grande perform, she managed to meet the pop singer in person.

It was a life-changing experience for Callander, one she recounted so enthusiastically on Instagram that the teenager threw punctuation aside.

“AFTER 6 YEARS OF WAITING I FINALLY GOT TO MEET AND SEE MY LOVE LIVE I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW HANDS DOWN THE BEST CONCERT OF MY LIFE,” she gushed.

It would take another two years and a new album for Grande to return to Manchester to perform. Not surprisingly, Callander was in the audience to see one of her favourite artists in person once again.

Collander tweeted at Grande the day before the show with another enthusiastic message:

Police believe a 22-year-old named Salman Abedi was at Manchester Arena as well. Authorities say Abedi detonated an explosive device amid a packed crowd of fans filing out of the arena after Grande’s final song, unleashing panic, terror and chaos.

The blast killed 22 people, including Callander, who died at a hospital with her mother beside her, the teen’s friends told the Evening Standard. Fifty-nine other people were injured.

The Islamic State claimed Tuesday that one of its “soldiers” carried out the attack, without providing details about the suspect or how it was accomplished. British investigators continue to search for links to potential accomplices as they try to determine responsibility.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called the carnage a “callous terrorist attack.”

“This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice deliberately targeting innocent, defenceless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives,” she said, speaking outside her Downing Street offices, where flags were lowered to half-staff.

As news of the violence spread, family members descended on the arena and swarmed local hospitals in search of loved ones. Among them were people looking for Callander.

“We were all praying for her to be found safely,” Shelby Wharton, a 17-year-old friend, told the Evening Standard. “Then we were told she had passed away.”

“She was always very open, would talk to everyone,” Wharton added. “She was so nice. It does not feel real. I just pray for her family.”

UK police names 22-year-old Salman Abedi as suicide bomber suspect as they hunt possible accomplices

Callander was student at Runshaw College in Leyland, England, where she was studying Health and Social Care. On Tuesday, the school posted a statement on Facebook acknowledging that the attack had claimed a member of their community.

“It is with enormous sadness that it appears that one of the people who lost their lives in Monday’s Manchester attack was one of our students here at Runshaw College,” the statement said. “Georgina Callander was a former Bishop Rawstorne pupil studying with us on the second year of her Health and Social Care course.”

“Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to all of Georgina’s friends, family, and all of those affected by this loss,” the statement added.

The teenager’s friends quickly began shared pictures of Callander on social media, using the hashtag #manchesterattack.

Callander was not just a fan of Grande - it appears she was a fan of pop culture in general. Her social media pages are filled with fan photos of the teenager meeting her favourite musicians and actors. Among her favourite shows was the ABC sitcom “Once Upon a Time,” a series about fairy tales colliding with the real world.

Only last month, Callander was able to meet Sean Maguire, Karen David and Emilie de Ravin, three actors who currently star in the show. All three remembered meeting Callander and paid tribute to her Tuesday, referring to her on social media as “so young and sweet” and a “beautiful soul.”

“Dearest Georgina, may your kind soul rest in peace. Heaven has gained an angel. . . . My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family, and your friends,” David wrote.

“Just met this girl in April.She was so young & sweet.She was killed last night Manchester.My love to her and all the families of the victims,” Sean Maguire tweeted.

And Emilie de Ravin posted “RIP Georgina you beautiful soul . . . words can’t express my anger and sadness towards the people involved in planing and carrying out the attack last night in #manchester . is an understatement. My love and courage goes out to Georgina’s family and friends and to all the families and friends of the victims last night. Praying for eternal peace for Georgina and all involved.”