The parents of Eilidh MacLeod have paid tribute to their “vivacious” daughter after it was confirmed she was among the 22 victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester.
The 14-year-old from Barra in the Outer Hebrides had been unaccounted for following Monday evening’s atrocity, but her family announced yesterday morning that she had been killed.
A talented piper who had performed on the island since the age of nine, she was described as a “lively” and “gregarious” girl.
In a statement, Roddy and Marion MacLeod said: “Words cannot express how we feel at losing our darling Eilidh.
“Eilidh was vivacious and full of fun.
“She loved all music whether it was listening to Ariana or playing the bagpipes with her pipe band.
“As a family we would like to express our thanks and gratitude for the support and kind messages we have received at this difficult time.”
Laura MacIntyre, 15, Eilidh’s classmate at Barra’s Castlebay Community School, remains in a serious condition in a Manchester hospital.
The two friends travelled to the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena accompanied by Mrs MacLeod. Eilidh texted her mother during the final song, but on arriving at the venue to pick them up, Mrs MacLeod witnessed people running from the arena.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led the tributes to Eilidh, and said the Scottish Government was working with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to support people on Barra, with educational psychologists on hand to help pupils.
Addressing a subdued First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said: “I know we will all want to send our love and thoughts to Eilidh’s mum and dad, and all of her family and friends, at this dreadful time for them. Our thoughts are also with Eilidh’s friend Laura MacIntyre, who remains in hospital.”
Annag Maclean, the headteacher at Castlebay, said: “Tragically, Eilidh’s life has been cut short and our worst fears have been realised. However, what she did and what she was will remain with each of us who knew her so well.
“Laura, who is very ill in hospital, is in our thoughts and prayers and we sincerely hope that she will make a full recovery and return to us soon.”
Ms Maclean said the school and wider community were in shock, numb, and “struggling to come to terms” with the “deep sadness” many people were feeling.
Angus MacNeil, SNP candidate for the Western Isles at next month’s general election, went to school with Eilidh’s father, Roddy. He said friends knew the teenager as a “lively and intense” girl.
He said she was an accomplished piper, and threw herself into learning the bagpipes “to such a degree that she surpassed not just her peers but people older than her, who had been at it for quite a bit longer”.
He added: “She was obviously delighted to go to Ariana Grande’s concert, and the fact that her friend went with her shows just how gregarious she was.
“Everybody at home is just horrified, stunned and numb about this event, that at the end of a delightful evening she has been caught up in suicide terrorism that has taken her life when it should have been a happy memory of a pop concert.”
Mr MacNeil said islanders had been “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of sympathy and support since it first emerged that the girls were victims of the attack.
“The people on the island are appreciating the kindness and the thoughts of others, and are feeling quite overwhelmed by the way people have felt towards the girls – the sympathy and the effect that they’ve had on people.
“It makes people feel that they’re not alone while their hearts are hurting.”
Alasdair Allan, the SNP MSP for the Western Isles, said the MacLeod family was “well regarded and well thought of” on Barra. He added: “This is a very difficult situation. There is a huge resolve and goodwill and sympathy for them, not just in the Western Isles but throughout Scotland.”
Norman A MacDonald, the convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Laura and Eilidh, and with all those affected.
“The Comhairle is working with other partners is putting in place the necessary support arrangements for pupils and staff and we will continue to do everything that we can to assist during this very difficult time for all concerned.”
A crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the MacLeod and MacIntyre families has raised nearly £25,000 in just 24 hours. The appeal, launched by Voluntary Action Barra & Vatersay, had a target of £2,000.