Tributes paid to women who died in Manchester Arena attack

·3-min read

A beauty therapist looked “just like an angel” in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena explosion, the public inquiry into the atrocity has heard.

Lisa Lees, 43, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was waiting near to the Arena exit doors to collect her daughter, India, at the end of the Ariana Grande concert on the evening of May 22 2017 when bomber Salman Abedi struck.

A member of the public, Jolene Smith, said she saw Mrs Lees shortly after the blast at 10.31pm, the inquiry sitting in Manchester was told.

Counsel to the inquiry Sophie Cartwright QC said: “In her statement, she says she knew that Lisa had died.

“She states Lisa’s face was beautiful … Jolene Smith recalls that Lisa’s hair was lovely and her make-up was still beautiful.

“She said Lisa looked just like an angel.”

The married mother-of-two ran her own business providing aromatherapy massages to terminally ill children and children who were at the end of life.

She had ambitions to open a beauty salon where her other daughter, Lauren was going to work.

Mrs Lees died from multiple injuries which were unsurvivable.

The inquiry is currently looking at how and in what circumstances each of the 22 victims died and to probe whether any inadequacies in the emergency response contributed to individual deaths and/or if they could have been prevented.

Present at Thursday’s hearing were Mrs Lees’s husband, Anthony, her daughter, Lauren, her mother Elaine Hunter and her brother Lee Hunter.

She was described as “the heart and soul of her family” who made a real difference to the lives of others.

Mrs Hunter thanked those who did their best to attend to her daughter following the blast.

Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders said: “Lisa Lees was a much loved mother, grandmother, wife and daughter.

“She also had a very successful career, among other things she used her skills to help children who were terminally ill.

“In that way she helped both them and their families.

“As I have heard she had given a great deal but she had so much more to give.”

Alison Howe, 45, one of the victims of the terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May 2017, pictured with her family (Manchester Arena Inquiry/PA)
Alison Howe, 45, one of the victims of the terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May 2017, pictured with her family (Manchester Arena Inquiry/PA)

Mrs Lees had entered the City Room foyer of the Arena with her friend, Alison Howe, 44, whose daughter, Darcie, attended the concert with India Lees.

Mrs Howe, from Oldham, also suffered unsurvivable injuries as she fell to the floor next to Mrs Lees.

The mother of Sasha and Darcie, and stepmother to Lewis, Jack, Jordan and Harris, was “adored” by her family and loved being a wife, stepmum and mum.

Her husband, Stephen, said his wife was “the one who gelled the family together as a family unit” and “would be forever in our hearts and minds”, the inquiry heard.

Sir John said: “Alison Howe played an enormous part in her extended family.

“She has been described as the glue that held them all together.

“What happened on May 22 2017 has left an enormous gap in their lives.

“She also brought happiness to a large circle of friends.

“She had worked in the past as a nurse.

“She was a force for good.”

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