THE family and friends of Nell Jones were joined by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham as guests of the Hilton Hotel in Manchester for a special ceremony to recognise the spirit of Manchester.

Nell was one of 22 people who died in the bomb explosion at the Manchester Arena in May 2017, and the ceremony was held on the day after what would have been her 16th birthday.

Mr Burnham unveiled a tapestry designed and created by artist Pauline Kirton in the aftermath of the attack, which symbolises everything good about the way Manchester came together in solidarity.

The tapestry was given to The Remembering Nell Foundation, a charity set up in Nell’s name to improve the lives of young people, after first being displayed in the cathedral during the ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the attack last May.

Mr Burnham said: “This is a wonderful tribute to Manchester, to its people and to the true spirit of unity we will always remember as the overwhelming response after the attack.

“It is fantastic that Nell’s family have had the tapestry framed and in conjunction with the Hilton Hotel will be making it available for everyone to see and enjoy.”

Jayne Jones, Nell’s mum said: “The tapestry is such a beautiful tribute to Manchester and to those affected in anyway, but particularly those, who like our beautiful daughter Nell, tragically lost their lives.

“The care and skill that has gone into the creation of this piece is extraordinary.

“We are truly honoured to have been given it. It represents the very best aspects of humanity and how a city, and our local community, stood strong in support, something for which we will always be grateful.”

Mr Burnham was ‘fresh’ in from Boston, USA, where he completed the Boston Marathon to raise funds for charities, including the Remembering Nell Foundation.

Mr Burnham brought along a cheque for £1,100, which he presented to the chairman of the charity, Nell’s eldest brother Sam Jones.

In the final part of the event, Mr Burnham made a presentation on behalf of Nell’s charity to representatives of The Wood Street Mission (WSM).

Nell’s family were keen to commemorate Nell’s 16th birthday by making a donation on her behalf to the Mission’s book appeal.

With support from Nell’s friends at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, the charity provided 16 copies of 16 books most popularly read by 16-year-olds that WSM will distribute as part of their supporting literacy programme as a way out of poverty for disadvantaged young people.

Nell’s mum Jayne said: “Nell loved school. She was always keen to learn and had a lovely group of close friends who she loved being around.

“She talked about the end-of-school proms right from day one at high school, it was something to look forward to.

“Obviously things changed forever that night, but we have been very clear as a family that we must find ways for others to benefit from what happened as a true tribute to our Nell.

“She would have loved to think that for her 16th birthday that almost 300 young people could be reading a book she was able to give them.

“Thank you to everyone who has made a donation to our charity and for helping us to make a difference to the lives of others.”

The tapestry will now be on public display in the foyer of the Hilton Hotel, Deansgate, Manchester ahead of the second anniversary of the attack next month.