Close to £30,000 has been raised for a homeless man who told of pulling nails from the bodies and faces of children injured in the Manchester Arena bombing.
Stephen Jones was sleeping near the venue on Monday night when he heard the explosion at around 10.30pm, just after US pop star Ariana Grande had finished performing.
The 35-year-old rushed to the scene, telling ITV News: “They needed the help. I’d like to think someone would come and help me if I needed the help.”
Graeme Seddon was so moved by his actions, he started a JustGiving crowdfunding page, with a hope to raise £300 to help Jones “get back on his feet.”
Seddon wrote: “He spoke about pulling nails out of young children’s faces and arms, something people should never have to think about, never mind actually do. He spoke about helping people because it was the natural and right thing to do. I think it’s natural and right to help him.
“Any money raised will go to help the gentleman back on his feet. I don’t normally do this but what I watched was a man who has restored some faith back in humanity. Let’s raise what we can.”
In less than 24 hours, the target had been exceeded 100 times over.
NHS health care assistant Jamie Martin was prompted to write: “If this amazing man wants to move to the north east he can live with me and my family rent free until he gets himself up and running.”
Others described Jones as “an angel” and a “diamond”, with Vicky Rushton remarking she had met him just days earlier. She said: “Whilst visiting Manchester last weekend, my other half and I got chatting to this gentleman outside a bar - we were talking for a good 30 minutes and he was telling us about his life. He DID NOT want to take any money off us, no matter how much we offered - he just wanted the opportunity to talk to people who do not assume he is a drug taking piece of scum for being homeless! He was a kind guy and was very appreciative of us taking the time to stop and have an adult conversation. Hope he gets what is being donated and can get off the streets and into some form of normal life.”
22 people were killed in the bombing, with 59 casualties taken to hospital and 60 walking wounded treated at the scene.
Jones added: “Just because I’m homeless doesn’t mean that I haven’t got a heart and I’m not human.
“It was a lot of children with blood all over them and crying and screaming. We were having to pull nails out of their arms and a couple out of this little girl’s face.”
“It had to be done, you had to help, if I didn’t help I wouldn’t be able to live with myself for walking away and leaving kids like that.”
Chris Parker, 33, was in the foyer area of the venue, where he regularly goes to beg for money as crowds leave the arena when the blast hit.
He said he heard a “bang” and then saw a “white flash, then smoke”. He then heard people screaming.
“It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away my gut instinct was to run back and try and help,” he told the Press Association.
“There was people lying on the floor everywhere.”
Parker tended to a little girl and a woman aged in her 60s.
Speaking of the woman, who was badly hurt from the bombing with serious leg and head injuries, he said: “She passed away in my arms. She was in her 60s and said she had been with her family.
“I haven’t stopped crying,” he said.
British police identified the attacker as Manchester-born Salman Abedi, 22. Abedi, believed to have been born in Manchester and of Libyan descent, studied business at Salford University but dropped out before completing his degree.
The 22-year-old is thought to have attended the Manchester Islamic Centre, also known as Didsbury Mosque, along with his parents and siblings.
A 23-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the bombing.
Britain has raised the terror threat level from severe to critical for first time since 2007 in the aftermath of the Manchester attack, Theresa May has said.