A former police officer who was on the front line of the Manchester Arena bombings is nearing the end of his mission to personally memorialise the victims who died in the attacks.
Aaron Parmer, who is now a firefighter, is running 22 10 kilometre races, each dedicated to the people who died in the terror attacks on May 22, 2017 after an Ariana Grande concert.
Mr Parmer, 33, said he still speaks to the family of one of the victims, Phillip Tron, every day and wanted to do something that would let all the families know they were still in people’s minds.
“(The emergency services) really feel for them as much as we did at the time,” he said.
Mr Tron, 32, was waiting in the arena's foyer for his step daughter, Courtney Boyle, when the bombs went off. Both died in the attacks.
Mr Parmer, who had been called in to help cordon off the arena, said he was one of the officers called on to support the Tron family in the aftermath.
“We spent a lot of time with the Tron family while they were going through the worst time of their lives.” he said.
Happy 16th birthday to Nell Jones. Coincidentally Nell was my 16th Race and my current PB sub 45 @ 44:39. Keep Nell, her family and friends in your thoughts today and could all my followers show your support for @RememberingNell give them a follow. #16NellJones pic.twitter.com/FOWJfa0uFb— FF Aaron Lee (@aaronlp1)April 16, 2019
“As much as we were there as police officers you couldn't quite help but be emotionally involved and it was just awful.
“They're a really, really nice family so it's very easy to start bonding and you're there to do absolutely anything that you can to make them feel better or to try and ease a bit of the burden that they were going through.”
Mr Parmer said it was a conversation with Phillip’s mother, June, that motivated him to realise his childhood dream of becoming a firefighter.
“She said ‘look at what's happened to us, life's too short’.”
He said that in September last year, after seeing posts from Mr Tron’s family on Facebook about how much he was missed, Mr Parmer decided to undertake a challenge that would pay tribute to the victims.
“A lot of their posts are about Phillip and how much they miss him and how much it's hurting them.
“I saw that and your heart just goes out to them as it did at the time.”
Mr Parmer said he decided on running the races because it would give him an opportunity to connect with the families and he could give the finishers medal to each of the families.
After running one race nearly every week since September, Mr Parmer has three left - one for Wendy Fawell on April 25, one for Eilidh MacLeod on May 12, and the final race for the attack’s youngest victim, eight-year-old Saffie Rousso, on May 19, days before the two year anniversary.
“Saffie is one that I think about quite a lot just given her age and how beautiful she was,” Mr Parmer said.
“I just relate to Saffie because I've got a young child myself so I've left Saffie's race to last to keep me motivated and focused and the last race I'm actually running it in my full firefighter uniform.”
For the record I’m not this child’s grandad it’s the other guy 👈🏼🤣! A pleasure and an honour to be able to run with Chloe’s dad mark. I’m very grateful to have met this family, I adore them all and to hear them say they class me as family now well...no words 😶 @chloeandliam24t pic.twitter.com/vDXq0wt1KW— FF Aaron Lee (@aaronlp1)April 15, 2019
He added that the races have given him the opportunity to bond with the other families and raise more than £12,000 through JustGiving to support the victims.
“The families have shared stories about what they were like with me, some funny, some sad some happy and it's been nice for me,” he said.
“I feel really humble that I've been allowed to do this and learnt a lot more about what has happened and people involved.”