Manchester Arena attack: Friends remember Corrie ‘superfan’ who ‘was a joy to be around’

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The last moments on camera of a social media star as he danced "without a care in the world" to Ariana Grande before the Manchester Arena attack have been played to the inquiry.

Martyn Hett, 29, was singing and dancing from the first song and got the parents and children around him on their feet too, along with his friends, the hearing was told.

He had been on the radio only hours before the attack talking about the return of Jim McDonald to Coronation Street because of his status as a "superfan" of the soap opera.

The last moments on camera of a social media star, as he danced "without a care in the world" to Ariana Grande, before the attack on Manchester Arena, have been played to the inquiry.
 
Martyn Hett, 29, was singing and dancing from the first song and got the parents and children around him on their feet too, along with his friends, the hearing was told.

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Stuart Aspinall says he and Martyn were 'laughing and getting excited' on the way to the concert

The PR account manager, who had appeared on Channel 4's Come Dine with Me and Tattoo Fixers, had arranged to take a leave of absence from his job for eight weeks to travel around the US.

He was celebrating his imminent departure and a friend's birthday at the concert and the inquiry heard that he was "standing up, singing and dancing, from the first song".

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He left the arena at 10.28pm, two minutes before the bomb exploded and was in the City Room foyer, laughing and joking with the arena security staff, according to witnesses.

One of the stewards saw Mr Hett in the City Room and said he was "in a good mood, enjoying himself, singing and dancing while filming himself".

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Stuart Aspinall, who was with Mr Hett that night, told the inquiry he had met him through Twitter three or four years earlier and they had become close friends.

Mr Hett, who had thousands of followers, would tease his friend about his lack of following for his posts.

"In the last year we had grown a lot closer with our friendship. I was very lucky to be one of his closest friends," Mr Aspinall said.

Manchester bombing victim Martyn Hett and his Deirdre Barlow tattoo

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Martyn Hett was a huge Coronation Street fan and had a Deirdre Barlow tattoo

On Monday 22 May, 2017, the day of the concert, Mr Hett had taken the morning off to pack for his trip but instead spent the time arranging his Facebook photos.

They texted each other and were "getting ourselves a bit giddy", Mr Aspinall said, before they met up in Stockport in the afternoon, having taken time off work, and went to a pub to "people watch and gossip" in the afternoon sunshine.

Martyn Hett

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Martyn had appeared on Channel 4's Come Dine with Me

They returned to Mr Hett's flat, where he did his interview on Coronation Street for BBC Radio Five Live.

"I am a big fan but when I met Martyn, he took it to a new level. No one loved Corrie as much as Martyn," Mr Aspinall said.

"It was at 6pm, (the) concert would be starting soon, we needed to be getting ready and we were still in Stockport.

"He insisted we took photos in the bay window of his flat because it offered really good lighting. I am so happy we did that because I have beautiful photos which I have now as memories."

On the tram into Manchester the pair were "laughing and giggling, getting excited, singing Ariana songs with the iPod on, in high spirits".

By the time they got to the concert it was 8.45pm and Ariana Grande was already on stage. They met their friends, Paul and Chris, who were in the row in front.

Martyn Hett

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Martyn was singing at the top of his voice to Ariana Grande

"From the off Martyn was up and dancing and we were soon following suit. We loved the Ariana Grande songs and the album the concert was for," Mr Aspinall said.

"He was singing at the top of his voice and dancing without a care in the world. It was such a great time to be together."

He described him as a "loveable and happy person" who had "such a warm energy and was such a joy to be around".

Paul Swaine said it was no surprise that Mr Hett was late and added: "He was in high spirits entertaining. I don't think he sat down in his chair all night. He got the parents and children behind dancing. He kicked the concert off."

Martyn Hett

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The inquiry heard Martyn was four metres away from the explosion

Afterwards they planned to go to the Gay Village for more drinks but they could not get hold of Mr Hett on the phone because there was no signal.

"We were walking towards the City Room to see if he was in the foyer and that is when the incident happened," Mr Aspinall said.

Alex Jamieson, for Mr Hett's family, said: "The Martyn whirlwind was in full effect that day – celebrity interview, curating social media, taking beautiful pictures, drinking, dancing and making friends wherever he went. Thank you very much for sharing those memories."

The inquiry heard Mr Hett was four metres away from the explosion and does not appear to have moved afterwards.

He died from multiple injuries, including a wound to his neck, and the injuries were not survivable, the inquiry was told.

Sir John Saunders, the inquiry chairman, said Mr Hett possessed an "energy and zest for life".

"He had a capacity as an entertainer, bringing happiness to so many people but he also helped a lot of people. He worked hard and played hard and I think Martyn's spirit is indestructible and will live on in the hearts of his family and many, many friends," he added.

The inquiry, which is currently examining the experience of each of the 22 victims on the night, continues.

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