Who Was Martyn Hett? 750 Pay Tribute To 'Coronation Street' Superfan
'Coronation Street' stars attend funeral
On June 30, Martyn Hett, a victim of the May 22 Manchester Arena bombing, was laid to rest and a tribute was held in his honor, attended by 750 people. Six-hundred were said to have gathered inside the Stockport Town Hall, with another 150 watching on a television screen erected outside, as reported by the Guardian.
The 29-year-old described himself as a "superfan" of the British television series, Coronation Street, and had attracted "national media attention" for a detailed Deirdre Barlow tattoo he wore on his ankle. Members of the series in attendance included Jennie McAlpine, Antony Cotton, Helen Worth, and Kym Marsh. Hett's coffin was festooned with Coronation Street memorabilia, including a street sign, and photos of other celebrities he admired, including Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.
Michelle McManus, a former winner with Pop Idol, was on hand to welcome attendees, as reported by The Telegraph. In addition to holding the cast of Coronation Street in high esteem, Mr. Hett was said to have once traveled more than 24 hours by bus to see McManus perform.
The singer spoke of her first encounter with Hett on Twitter, where he "got in touch to tell me how wonderful I was and I thought 'I'm getting punked here.'" The singer explained that fans rarely go out of their way to relay compliments, and that she generally receives complaints. "They usually want to tell me that they don’t like me or that my hair offends them or that the shoes I wore last week were abominable or something like that." McManus remembered the first time she met Martyn Hett in person, how he sang lyrics to her songs that she had, herself, forgotten.
Father describes life as 'rollercoaster'
Martyn's father, Paul Hett, described being proud of his son, "I would describe Martyn’s life as one long rollercoaster ride. You never knew where it would take you or what was around the next corner. You couldn’t wait for it to happen. With Martyn, you felt exhilarated."
Paul Hett told stories of receiving messages from around the globe, from people who followed his son on the internet, "Waiting for his next hilarious post."
Twenty-two people, in addition to the bomber, were killed in the Manchester attack. Two-hundred-fifty people were injured. Among those killed included 10 under the age of 20, 20 British citizens, and two Polish citizens, according to the Manchester Evening News. A British-born suicide bomber was responsible for the deaths and injuries. The perpetrator was described by The New York Times as being in contact with members of the Islamic State in Libya.
According to the Independent, the bomber had been in Libya, possible receiving training, just a few short days before the Manchester bombing. Police believe the bomb that was detonated was constructed during a four-day period after the attacker had returned from Libya, but before he had perpetrated the attack.
A close friend of Martyn Hett's, James Kavanagh, who is described as a "Snapchat superstar," flew from Ireland to attend the service. Kavanagh reminisced of meeting Hett on Facebook, and within months, Hett booking tickets with his partner, Russell Hayward, to fly to Dublin. Kavanagh described the "strong friendship" he had formed with Martyn over Facebook as "mental."
Despite being a young man, Paul Hett reported that his son had previously made his wishes for his funeral known publicly. Before the service, the father informed guests that his son had already, "discussed and planned his funeral the way he wanted to exit. It's going to be almost theatrical actually."
Hett learned that his son was missing early Tuesday morning, in the hours following the attack. The father spoke of his life being instantly "turned upside down," and noted that "we were cared for with so much empathy and understanding by everyone concerned." He went to say how proud he was of his son.
A service was also held on June 30 for Megan Hurley, a 15-year-old from Halewood, Merseyside, who also died in the Manchester attack.
© 2017 Stephen Sinclair