Two weeks ago I wasn't really sure who Ariana Grande was. Now I'm her biggest fan.
Three terrorist attacks in the UK in as many months has not just been tough, it's been brutal. In the face of this, the British public has shown defiance, calmness and incredible kindness. If ever there was a time to be proud to be British, it's now.
Ariana Grande may not be British herself but she has encapsulated the nation's spirit. In the wake of the terrorist attack at her Manchester concert last month, the 23-year-old pulled together the show we all needed - an impressive line-up of musicians, messages of love and a united crowd determined not to bow down to terrorists. It was a beautiful thing. On a weekend where seven more people needlessly lost their lives at the hands of extremists, it could seem trivial to use music as a big f*ck you to terrorism, but it's not. It's perfect.
Music brings people together, it doesn't matter what faith you have, what background you're from, who you love or your race - it unites people in a way that almost nothing else can. The One Love concert was the perfect reminder that humans are resilient and we won't be beaten or live in fear.
Grande could have locked herself away two weeks ago but instead she's emerged as a powerful young woman - proving that a small stature and age mean nothing when standing up for what you believe in. She is the perfect role model to her army of young fans and I am in awe. To put on a concert of this scale is impressive but to do it under these circumstances and still perform with dignity, love and above all, a sense of fun, is something to be praised.
But this isn't all she's done.
She's also demonstrated huge generosity by donating half a million dollars from her record label to the We Love Manchester Fund, she's visited injured fans at their hospital beds - posing for selfies and signing autographs, she's officially re-released her single 'One Last Time' and will donate all sales to charity and it's reported that she has offered to cover the funeral costs of those who were killed at her concert.
She's an inspiration to us all.
Working in a newsroom and reporting terrorism unfortunately go hand in hand. It is never easy - you're not numb to it, you don't go into autopilot and every victim is a painful reminder that tragedy can strike any one of us, at any time. It doesn't matter where in the world it happens - it's always heart wrenching. The recent attacks in the UK are a stark reminder that this is not just an attack on individuals but an attack on our way of life - an assault on innocent people having fun.
Despite how utterly terrible the news can be, the hopeful stories that emerge in the aftermath of an attack are always the ones that stay with me - the cyclist who delivered water to police officers working at London Bridge, the Mancunian taxi driver giving out free rides, the cafe owner who helped protect 130 customers in the midst of an attack. And the Ariana Grande concert.
2017 is an uncertain time but in uncertain times, we need to continue with our lives and honour the victims who lost theirs. In my mind there is no better way of doing this than following Grande's lead. The message she sent out to Manchester, the UK and indeed the world was one of hope and defiance. In the words of the woman herself 'love is the medicine the world really needs right now'.
Ariana Grande: I salute your braveness and the positive message you're sending out to young women and indeed, to us all.
To donate £5 to the We Love Manchester fund, text LOVE to 70507. Texts cost £5 plus your standard network rate, with 100% of your donation going to the We Love Manchester Fund.Suggest a correction