Telegraph & Argus sports reporter Ellie Clayton was at the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on May 22 when the bomb killing 22 people went off. Here she recalls that night, and the events that followed.

“After the best concert I had ever been to I was walking towards the stairs leading out of the arena when there was a deafening bang that made the whole building shake. Keeping quite calm and thinking it was a gas canister, I was completely unaware that 22 people had just been killed by a bomb only metres away from where I was.

After what seemed like forever, but was just seconds, hundreds of people flooded back into the arena screaming, even though no one really knew what was going on. We managed to get out of a back stage fire escape and that was when the chaos began.

All I could see was blue flashing lights and people crying. My cousin, friend and I were due to get a train home from Victoria Station but when we walked there, still unaware of what happened, we encountered children screaming, people covered in blood and injured bodies on the torn-up ground. I asked a guard what was going on, he said: “There’s been a bomb, you’ll need to find another way of getting home.” That was when the panic set in and then everything was a blur. A police officer told us to go to the other station, by this point news of the attack was everywhere and I had completely forgot to let my parents know I was okay. I was overwhelmed by all the messages and calls I was getting from people asking if I was safe.

Leeds Station was full of police officers and we gave statements. When I got back the News was on and I kept seeing images and videos of the concert. I just could not stop crying. I didn’t sleep, I just lay there thinking that people I had been dancing and singing with just a few hours ago with were no longer alive. It was something that was really hard to take in.

Next morning was a blur, I was flooded with calls and messages and as much as I wanted to speak to people I just didn’t want to be on my phone. A reporter from the T&A got in touch asking if I could do an interview. I agreed to do it because I wanted people to know the reality of being caught up in a terror attack so close to home. The article was published online and shared thousands of times, and reporters from around the world contacted me asking for interviews. My cousin and I did an interview for the BBC Six O’clock News, they asked lots of questions and I felt bad because I’m such a positive person but I couldn’t get the energy that day. One question stuck in my head: “What do you think of the person that did this?” The first thing I said was: “Am I allowed to swear?” which of course was a no, but I couldn’t put into words how I felt about whoever had done it, it hadn’t really crossed my mind.

A few days later, I was at work in a shop and serving a lady at the till when Ariana’s song One Last Time came on the speakers. I burst into tears in front of the customer and told her I was at the concert. She gave me the biggest hug which touched my heart.

Over the days following the concert the News continued to show reports of the bombing and faces of the victims. I felt like I was re-living it every time the images flashed up. I was flooded with requests from journalists from around the world wanting interviews, but after a while I just didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I was even approached by the makers of a documentary about the bombing but I felt I didn’t want to take part.

There had been rumours of a benefit concert in Manchester and when Ariana Grande confirmed this, and that anyone who had been at the arena concert would get a free ticket, I knew I had to go. It was held at Old Trafford Cricket Ground on June 4. Walking back into an arena-style environment, I thought back to the last concert I’d been at. Normally I would be excited but this time I felt nervous. But the security wasn’t intimidating and made everyone relax. The concert was very emotional, I laughed, I cried but most of all it helped me realise I can do normal things like this again without being scared. It was a highlight of 2017.

I don’t really know what I am. A victim, a witness, a survivor? I was so lucky to not have been physically hurt in the attack and it haunts me to this day that there are people I was dancing and singing with who are no longer here. We were all there for one reason - to see Ariana. It was one of the greatest nights of my life and it turned into the worst.

I still think about that night a lot. My heart hurts for all the families who lost their loved ones that night.”