Year 11 student Grace Trippitt is using her experiences to write about issues that affect young people.
There are some experiences that can never be forgotten. Tollbar Academy Year 11 student Grace Trippitt (16) will never forget being present at the Ariana Grande concert on May 22 2017 at Manchester Arena when a terrorist attack killed 22 people and left more than 800 others with life-changing injuries.
The then 11-year-old student and her mum Amy survived the bombing but, like many of the 10,000 people who attended the concert, they were left with post traumatic shock.
Five years on, Grace is studying for her GCSE exams in Year 11 and has channelled her experiences into helping others by becoming a young writer and tackling a range of ‘taboo’ subjects in the public arena.
From sexual assaults, to youth suicide and loneliness in lockdown, Grace has become a voice for young people after joining the Grimsby Telegraph’s Young Reporter scheme. In May this year, she wrote about her experiences of the Manchester Arena bombing in the Telegraph. In it she said ‘the deadliest scar of all was memory.’
“I often wish my senses were taken from me before attending the concert, so that my ears wouldn’t have heard what they had, my eyes hadn’t seen what they had, my nose hadn’t smelt what it had, and my mouth hadn’t been able to ask the questions of survival or not to my mum, who had no clear answer,” she recalls.
With the page at her disposal, Grace refused to be a victim. Instead of detailing her terror and personal horror of being trapped in the Arena that evening, she devoted her words to the victims’ families, to the sheer terror they felt at not being able to contact their relatives as the aftermath of the attack unfolded. Grace’s mum lost her phone during the attack and her own friends and relatives had to wait to discover if she was still alive.
She said: “I have spoken to many, all with different memories of that night, but not one person I have encountered has said, ‘it was easy’, not one person has said, ‘I never had nightmares’, not one person said, ‘I was never scared to go out’, not one person, even those not physically present, has not felt a certain loss.
“My family and closest friends were among those who were at home and were woken by the news. My social media was flooded with messages, friends waiting for a reply which they only received in the late morning. With no idea of whether I was okay, my friends had to wait most of the morning until I replied to know that I was alive. So, the experience for everybody had an effect. Nobody was left without a scar.”
Today Grace finds her writing cathartic; she channels her frustrations, fears and hopes for humanity into issues that she feels do not receive enough words.
“If anything I just want to give voice to issues that are not spoken about enough. I like to tackle subjects that have deeper consequences. So far I have written about toxic masculinity and its effect on male suicide rates, diversity, disability, sexual assault, and mental health. I feel there is so much pressure on young people, we have to talk more about it,” she said.
Through her articles, Grace offers her own opinions on these subjects and her hope is to become a columnist in the future to continue to give a voice to those she feels do not have one.
“I am doing my GCSE exams next summer and then I hope to carry on at Tollbar Sixth Form before going to university. I will study English and Sociology and I hope in the future to be able to bring more awareness to the things that we just don’t like to talk about,” she said.
Hannah Corken, Head of News at the Grimsby Telegraph, said: “The Young Reporters’ column has been running in the Grimsby Telegraph for many years and has been the starting point for some very successful careers during that time. It has evolved into a unique platform for aspiring writers like Grace to write about what matters to them.
“Grace's moving column about the Manchester Arena tragedy was not only printed in the Grimsby Telegraph, but used on GrimsbyLive as a powerful first person piece on the anniversary date that reached thousands of people. I really hope Grace goes on to fulfil her ambition of becoming a columnist - that is why the Young Reporters’ scheme was developed, to give young people a voice and the confidence to follow their writing dreams.”
Grace Trippitt with Tollbar Academy English Teacher Miss Kate Lockett.