The island community of Barra last night gathered to say prayers for the families of two teenage girls caught up in the Manchester suicide bomb attack.
Eilidh MacLeod, 14, remains unaccounted for following Monday night’s attack, while her friend and classmate, Laura MacIntyre, 15, is in a serious condition in hospital.
Relatives of Eilidh were being comforted in Manchester yesterday by family liaison officers from Police Scotland as they waited for news about the teenager.
Laura’s loved ones were at her bedside yesterday after she was finally traced to a hospital in the city.
The youngsters, both third year pupils at Castlebay Community School in Barra, attended the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, where 22 people were killed.
Manchester and its people are so much closer to Barra than anyone ever had realisedRev Dr Lindsay Schluter
They travelled to the city with Eilidh’s mother, Marion, who witnessed the aftermath of the attack after arriving at the venue to pick them up.
Greater Manchester Police said yesterday they were now confident they knew the identity of all the people who lost their lives and had made contact with all the families.
However, the force said it would not formally name the victims until forensic post-mortem examinations had been carried out, which could take four or five days.
Angus MacNeil, the SNP candidate for the Western Isles at next month’s general election, spoke yesterday with Laura’s grandmother, Cecilia MacFadyen.
Donald Manford, an SNP councillor on the island, has also been in contact with his nephew, Roddy MacLeod, who is Eilidh’s father.
Mr MacNeil said: “The island remains on tenterhooks. Laura is continuing to receive treatment in hospital and we hope she is responding well.
“Our hopes, prayers, and sympathies go to her and her family. We all obviously have Eilidh MacLeod and her family in our thoughts as well.”
Last night, a service was being held at Castlebay Church on Barra with the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, parish priest Father John Paul Mackinnon, and local Church of Scotland minister, Rev Dr Lindsay Schluter.
Bishop Brian McGee, who met relatives of the two girls yesterday, said: “This is a time of terrible anguish for the MacLeod and MacIntyre families.
“Spending time with the relatives of both girls was a reminder of the human cost of acts of terror.”
Mr MacNeil said the church at Castlebay, the largest on the island, was a “focal point” for the community and would allow people to come together. He added: “It will be positive for people on the island to gather and say prayers.”
Bishop McGee and Fr Mackinnon also visited Castlebay Community School to speak to teachers and staff.
Fr Mackinnon added: “Barra is an island of close bonds and deep faith. The ripples of pain spreading out from the terrible events in Manchester on Monday are amplified here in such a small community.”
Pupils at the school are being offered support as islanders attempt to come to terms with the tragedy.
Headteacher Annag Maclean said: “The recent incident in Manchester was a planned and violent act targeted at young people enjoying a social event.
“Our school and island community are in shock, feeling numb and struggling to come to terms with it.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Eilidh and Laura, their family and friends as they struggle to cope.”
Ms Maclean said she was “confident” the school and wider community will continue to support both families.
Western Isles Council said it is ensuring there was “additional support” put in place for staff as well as pupils at the school, with discussions ongoing with the Scottish Qualifications Authority “regarding the exceptional circumstances for pupils in Castlebay sitting exams in the coming week”.
Organisers of the Mòd Ionadail Uibhist, due to take place this weekend, cancelled the event in light of the “tragic incident” in Manchester.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that Police Scotland was providing support to the families.