Freya Lewis was three meters away from Manchester Arena bomb explosion – now she is preparing to mark the fifth anniversary with her usual bravery

“It doesn’t feel like five years ago, in some ways that feels like another life.”

Remarkable teenager Freya Lewis is reflecting on the night she was just three meters away from the terrorist who detonated a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert killing 21 innocent people. Aged just 15 at the time, Freya suffered 29 injuries, was in a coma, and was wheelchair-bound for three months.

Since that inconceivable act almost five years ago, Freya whose best friend Nell Jones died in the blast at Manchester Arena, has shown commendable resilience, courage and fortitude. Amazingly just 12 months after suffering her injuries the steely survivor was not only on her feet de ella, but running the Junior Great Manchester Run for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity.

Now, as the fifth anniversary of this tragic event looms – she is once again preparing to take to the streets to raise funds, embarking on the adult 10K exactly five years to the day of the atrocity. A day that is bound to trigger a wide range of deep emotions.

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Freya said: “I think on the day of the run it will really hit home that it’s the anniversary.” She is now in her first year studying acting and performance at LMA in Stratford and explaining what happened to her when meeting someone new is still a strange experience.

She added: “When I started university in September I was thinking ‘how do I bring it up?’ My friends and I had been in touch on social media before we arrived so they had a chance to look me up online. Most of them knew already when we met but some people don’t know.

Freya Lewis, 15, with sister Georgia and dad Nick. Awards for Brave Britons

“It was nice to get a fresh start and be ‘just Freya’ rather than ‘Freya from the Arena Attack’. It’s not that I avoid talking about it. I think it’s important to talk about it. But it’s just one piece of who Yo soy.”

Freya, who lives in Holmes Chapel, was treated at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and this year, exactly five years to the day since the unimaginable horror unfolded, she will be running the adult 10K for the same charity and will be joined by her closest family and friends.

Freya Lewis at 15

She says: “I was actually discharged from the children’s hospital in December 2021, I had my last ever back X-ray and it was a real mix of emotions. It’s great I can finally say I am completely healthy but it’s so sad I won’t be seeing everyone at the hospital.

“It’s felt like my second home – everyone in the Charity Team and all the medical staff are like family. It’s strange to think I won’t be treated there anymore but they can’t get rid of me. I’ll still be staying in touch and raising money for the charity.”

Since her time in hospital, Freya has penned a book, “What Makes Us Stronger”, which will be coming out in paperback in May. She has also won numerous awards including an NHS Heroes Award in 2018 and was named as one of the UK’s most inspirational females by The Sun on International Women’s Day 2020.

Freya’s dad Nick Lewis said he’s indebted to the people who helped saved his little girl. “For the rest of our lives we will always do whatever we can for the children’s hospital,” he said.

Freya Lewis’ book, “What Makes Us Stronger.” Ella’s inspirational story of love and courage got her through the Manchester Arena bombing, which almost killed her. Her best friend, Nell Jones, died in the attack.

“It sounds strange if you’ve never been there, but we really miss it. It’s an incredibly special place full of incredible people.”

Freya, now aged 19, will this year be running with parents Nick and Alison, sister Georgia, Georgia’s boyfriend Nathan, auntie Elaine and university friends Summer Finley and Ilisha Chauhan. “Running has always been quite painful for my back so I just need to see how things go on the day.” Laughing, she added: “My dad will probably shoot off and leave us behind – he’s much faster than all of us.”

Freya first did the Junior Great Manchester Run in 2018, then in 2019 she ran the 10K adult circuit and was part of the group of green T-shirts out in the crowd celebrating the tenth birthday of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital being at its Oxford Road home . The 2020 event was made virtual and her dad Nick ran the 2021 event alone, so this will be Freya’s third time running for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity.

“This year’s run will be very poignant with it being on the anniversary. Every year when I set off running I feel the emotions.” she said.

“I’ll probably be quite wobbly but it’s nice we will all be together as a group. Seeing all the green T-shirts for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity always gets me.”

The Great Manchester Run features a 10k event and a half marathon.

The family have raised £65,279.25 over the years, supported by friends, Freya’s school and the proceeds from her book launch. They hope this year’s 10K will help them to achieve a further £1,000.

Angela Rowe, Senior Community Fundraising Manager for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Freya truly is an inspirational and amazing young woman. I feel very privileged to know her and her family de ella and hear how well Freya is doing at university.

“The Lewis family should all be so proud of their amazing fundraising. This money really will make an incredible difference to the treatment, research and care projects we fund at the children’s hospital.”

To sponsor Freya and her family visit To find out about running the Great Manchester Run 10K or other events for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity visit

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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