RADCLIFFE turned out in force to remember John Atkinson who was killed in the Manchester Arena attack.

Family members were joined by more than 150 residents in the town centre in memory of the 28-year-old Radcliffe man.

A balloon release, singing and dancing were organised for the gathering on Saturday, December 23, which was a special celebration of his life.

It was also an opportunity to shed some joy among the community, as well as fundraise for Friendly Faces - a charity run by Ambition For Ageing Bury to combat social isolation among the older generations.

Organiser and family friend Kerry Paul, aged 32, said: "We organised this to show the family that they are in our thoughts at this time of year.

"We wanted them to know they are not alone and that John is always in our hearts."

As part of the gathering, around 40 performers from Freak Dance company sang a selection of traditional Christmas carols.

The group, with members between the ages of three and 28, turned out in their Christmas jumpers, t-shirts and Santa hats.

Owner Aeron Lloyd-Booth said: "It was so nice. It was a very personal occasion. The kids sang Holy Night and a range of other music.

"There was a real sense of community. I think John would have been thrilled with it, seeing that it brought so many people together."

Ms Paul, who grew up on the Outwood Road estate with John, also organised a raffle and DJ Gaz Hulmes.

Visitors to the town centre enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies between 1 and 3pm.

Radcliffe-born singer Jessica Cambray, who now lives in Stopes Road, Little Lever, also performed a selection of songs at the event.

She said: "Radcliffe is my home town. I’m proud of where I’m from and try my best to support causes when I can.

"My heart goes out to the Atkinson family. It was a devastating thing to have happened.

"You just can't begin to imagine the pain and heartache they are dealing with.

"However, it's lovely to know that Radcliffe still has a strong community spirit and have come together on this day to show their support."