The daughter of a police officer who told how he frantically looked for her in the wake of the Manchester attack on May 22 was back to see Ariana Grande and special guests at the benefit concert on Sunday.
Stephanie Buckley and two of her friends, Emily Fielden and Devonne Barratt, all 15, were among the concertgoers who had been at the first show and had special access to the One Love Manchester gig.
Last Friday, Stephanie’s dad Michael Buckley told Prince William of how he had been among the first police officers on the scene because he was off duty and picking up his daughter.
Buckley, 47, found himself in the awful position of looking for his teenage daughter and then tending to the injured and dying around him in the aftermath of the attack.
Stephanie tells PEOPLE while waiting for the gates to open to the benefit concert, “We just want to be supportive of the people who died. Coming today just supports everyone.”
Fielden adds, “It’s like some closure as well. If I didn’t come today there wouldn’t be much sense in going to another concert. We’d still be living in that fear.”
“You have to carry on — there was nothing we could do about it. It’s happened and we have to move from it and come to terms with it. This helps,” Stephanie adds.
They are all excited for the show — and looking forward to seeing the main star again. “We want to see how Ariana is,” says Barratt.
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The concert on May 22 was Stephanie’s first without her parents. “Apart from what happened it was a great concert,” Barratt adds. “That’s what I look at, the concert from the inside.”
Stephanie and her pals were inside the arena when the blast happened just outside. “It was chaos really. There were people screaming, people crying. It was a horrible situation to be in. We were just packing getting ready to go when it went off. People started running back into the arena and we all panicked.” She adds she was not badly injured but had some bumps and and a bruise on her head.
“I thought it was a shooting at first,” Fielden says, and praised their friend Devonne for staying calm. “You just have to be, otherwise people get irate and stress out.”
Fielden recalls phoning her mom within two minutes of the bomb going off. “She didn’t really believe it. She thought it hadn’t happened because it wasn’t on the news until a few minutes later.”
“After it went off I texted my mum she thought it was a joke when I texted her,” Stephanie says.
The girls sheltered in the nearby Park Inn and were reunited with police constable Michael Buckley in the early hours of May 23. “My dad was covered in blood so I couldn’t hug him,” Stephanie said. “I had a major panic attack. I just couldn’t breathe. Outside we saw the children crying looking for parents and sirens going off.”
She says of Sunday evening’s concert of hope. “I just hope everyone has a good time and nothing happens.”