Nearly 2000 teddy bears left as a tribute to those who were killed or injured in the terror attack at Manchester Arena in May are being moved on to new homes this week.
After they were removed from the square, Manchester based shoe-makers Timpsons offered to store all of the bears and to dry them out.
Once they had been dried enough so they could be properly handled and sorted, the bears were then washed and repaired by an army of Women’s Institute members from branches across Greater Manchester.
The University of Manchester filmed and interviewed WI volunteers during this process and took photographs of each of the teddy bears and other soft toys for an archive that is being established of all things relating to the attack.
The teddies will be distributed to children via Greater Manchester charities including Wood Street Mission and The Toy Appeal, and by Bearly Loved and The Teddy Trust which work internationally.
“We’re determined this horrific event that has both devastated and touched the lives of so many people shall not be forgotten, and nor will those who died or were injured,” said Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council.
“The amount of love and feeling invested in each and every one of the teddies and other tributes left on St Ann’s Square could be felt by everyone who saw them, and absolutely no one could have failed to have been moved by them.
“Whilst we will never forget what has happened, it’s important that we also start to look towards the future. Moving on this huge family of teddies that were left with such feeling and amongst much sadness on St Ann’s Square for other children now to enjoy and to cherish is a big part of this.”
Most of the floral tributes from the square were taken to Wythenshawe Park, where the messages attached to them were removed and saved to be added to the archive.
Bouquets which had passed their best were composted and used in the city centre and in local communities to support new and existing green spaces and containers.
Many of the more than 600 potted plants which were donated were planted around the city centre – including in planters at the Cathedral and Manchester Art Gallery. The rest were either donated to residential care homes or planted in Wythenshawe Park.
Several hundred paper items were also left on St Ann’s Square, including cards left with flowers. Every scrap of paper left in tribute was saved and taken to restoration specialists for freeze-drying and cleaning as another important part of the archive being created.
Volunteers also retrieved several hundred candles from the square that are currently in storage. Those with personal messages or which are symbolic will be transferred into the archive.
Other momentoes and balloons – around 1,000 of them – were also sorted and are in storage. These include Manchester Run medals, bee-related objects, knitted or sewn items as well as very personal items left for individuals. Over 100 balloons were deflated and recorded and a sample of these will also be retained in the archive.