Mother of Manchester Arena victim ‘humbled’ by OBE

Figen Murray has completed a master’s degree in counter terrorism and campaigned for increased security measures.

Mother of Manchester Arena victim ‘humbled’ by OBE

The mother of one of the Manchester Arena victims has said she is “completely humbled” to be made an OBE.

Figen Murray, 60, has completed a master’s degree in counter terrorism, campaigned for increased security measures and spoken to 14,000 schoolchildren about the dangers of radicalisation since her son Martyn Hett, 29, died in the attack after an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.

She said the news she was featured in the New Year Honours had come as a surprise.

She told the PA news agency: “I don’t do any work to gain anything from it, I do it literally because I want to do it and because it is really important.

“I have no idea who recommended me and I feel completely humbled and really honoured.”

Manchester Arena Inquiry
Martyn Hett was one of the victims of the terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert (Manchester Arena Inquiry/PA)

“I think he’d be quite touched that I do a lot of this work in memory of him, not just in memory of him but in memory of the 21 others who died in the attack as well.”

The mother-of-five, from Stockport, said her world had “completely changed” following her son’s death.

She said: “I have channelled all of my energy into action to prevent violent terrorist acts from happening again.”

Mrs Murray said she first decided to do something in the days after the attack when she saw a photo of terrorist Salman Abedi, 22, on the front page of a newspaper.

She said: “I remember freezing on the spot and thinking ‘oh my God, you’re so young, why on earth would you do that?’

“I knew nothing about terrorism but I was shocked that it was somebody so young and I decided I needed to do something about it.”

Following the first anniversary of the attack, she began to go into schools and now regularly gives presentations to children in which she talks about what happened to her son, the values of tolerance and kindness and how to spot online radicalisation.

At the end of her talk, she asks pupils to pledge acts of kindness.

She said: “Up to now I’ve managed, between attending court and doing my masters, to go to enough schools to speak to 14,000 children.

“Covid got in the way a bit but I hope to have reached 100,000 children by the end of 2022.”

Mrs Murray, who previously worked as a therapist, says she can normally “hear a pin drop” when she is addressing students and teachers, and often hears afterwards of the impact she has had on classrooms and individuals.

She said: “There is not a single moment when I have tapped into anger.

“I decided very early on that I actually want to forgive.

“Somebody has to start breaking the cycle of hate and anger.”

Since the attack, she has campaigned for Martyn’s Law, to step up anti-terror security measures at public places.

In February, the Government held a consultation on its Protect Duty, which built on her plans.

She said: “I also passionately believe that prevention is better than cure, and know education is the most powerful tool to defeat hate and extremism.

“I plan to continue travelling across the country to speak with young people in schools, colleges and universities, to spread kindness, tolerance and compassion, and to help them to recognise the signs of extremism and radicalisation, and how to safely report it.”

She added: “I do know that I can’t stop doing what I do. I strongly believe in it, I’m passionate about it and I feel it is really important.”

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