Police hunt arsonists who set fire to Arbourthorne memorial bench dedicated to Manchester Arena bomb victim

The remains of the bench that was burnt down on Saturday. Picture: Ben Miskell.

Police are attempting to identify the individuals who set fire to a memorial bench that was dedicated to a Manchester Arena bombing victim on Saturday.

The bench, remembering 32-year-old Kelly Brewster, who was killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack in 2017, was installed close to the Arbourthorne Social Centre on East Bank Road in Arbourthorne.

Ben Miskell, Labour councillor for Park and Arbourthorne, said: “I was outraged to see that the bench, dedicated to a local victim of the Manchester Arena terror attack had been destroyed and aghast that someone could put at risk our social centre building”.

“There’s thousands of pounds worth of damage to the social centre as well. It’s a building that’s actively used by many elderly residents to play bingo and socialise. We really need that space coming out of Covid.”

The fire was believed to have started at 7pm and video showing a bench engulfed in flames with smoke billowing from it  was posted on Facebook.

The centre, owned by Sheffield Council, is used by the Arbourthorne Tenants and Residents’ Association (TARA) for meetings and social events like bingo.

Despite no arrests being made, TARA have been working closely with the police, looking at CCTV footage in an attempt to identify those responsible.

Over £53,000 was raised in memory of Miss Brewster, by her former colleagues at insurance firm Aviva, for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital which was chosen by her family.

Due to the damage sustained, the community surrounding the area has put in a plan to find and donate to a replacement bench.

Coun Miskell added: “It’s been great to see the community rally together and offer to donate money to replace the bench. It shows that the vast majority of people in Arbourthorne are warm-hearted and totally against this sort of mindless criminality.”

Anyone with information about the fire should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident number 716.

Written by Sam Quine

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