Why a Yorkshire lad got a Manchester Bee: Joe’s Story.

After the tragic events that took place in Manchester on the 22nd May, an attack that claimed the lives of 22 people and left over 115 injured, there has been an overwhelming amount of support for those affected, coming in all shapes and sizes, from the candle-lit vigil held in Albert Square, to the GoFundMe campaign to provide a house for Steve Jones, a homeless man who selflessly rushed to the aid of those caught in the blast.

But one of the most unique and touching tributes has been the Manchester Bee tattoos. Several Manchester artists offered to tattoo the Manchester Bee, a symbol of Manchester that references its strong ties with the textile industry, and donate the proceeds to help those affected. A JustGiving page was then set up by Samantha Barber, with the aim of raising £10,000. At the time of this article being written, it had raised over £60,000. Tattoo artists from all over the world have now been offering the Manchester Bees, as far afield as Sydney, Australia, but thankfully I didn’t have to travel that far to show my support.

Paul Armstrong, a Mancunian artist based out of Huddersfield Studio Slawit Ink had put an entire day aside to tattoo those who wanted to show their support for the victims of this horrific attack. Joined by fellow artist Matt ‘Mesi’ Evans, he raised over £1000 in a single day, an admirable feat.

‘But why did you get one?’ Some of you might be asking. Now, there are a few reasons for this. One: purely to show my support and solidarity with all those affected by this tragic event. Two: Because I love the city of Manchester and it is so close to home, I felt it was only right to do my part. And Three: Because that could have been me. As a writer, particularly one who often works in media and entertainment, I am in and out of venues, week in, week out.

 I have been to that arena, and the adjoining Victoria Station, more times than I can remember. I can picture the foyer where those horrible events took place, very clearly. Many of my friends live in Manchester, My dad worked there for the majority of my childhood, there is no city on earth I know better, other than my hometown.

Which is why on Sunday afternoon, my Dad and I trooped down to Slawit Ink to do our bit. As we entered we were given ‘I <3 MCR’ stickers, and offered a variety of refreshments, many of which were brought by members of the community. The studio was buzzing with activity, showing that the worst circumstances really do bring us together.

 Chatting to Paul about the events of May 22nd, he told us how Manchester studio Holier than Thou were swamped with hundreds of potential customers queueing up to be inked with the flying fauna that represents the people of this great city.

‘There were 400-500 people queued up all the way back to Piccadilly Gardens.’ He said, clearly pleased that so many people were getting involved.

‘When I first heard about it, it was quite late, and I debated staying up to find out what happened, but I decided to go to bed, and then when I woke up it all came flooding in. It was devastating.’ He recalled.

After getting inked, we signed Paul’s shirt that will be hung in the studio, as a reminder of all those that were injured and lost their lives, as well as those who came out in support. This really shows how, as people, we all band together and support each other in the wake of a catastrophe, and are willing to have a permanent reminder on our skin, in order to show how much we care about one another.

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