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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
John Scheerhout

Arena bomb survivor Martin Hibbert treats paramedic who saved his life to a day out at Wembley cheering on Manchester United

Manchester Arena bombing survivor Martin Hibbert has treated the paramedic who saved his life to a day out at Wembley - to watch their beloved United.

Martin was paralysed following 22 shrapnel wounds which left him with a severed spinal cord. His daughter Eve, then 14, suffered a devastating brain injury also caused by shrapnel from the bomb.

Now a forceful voice and campaigner for disabled people, Martin has forged an amazing friendship with the paramedic who saved his life after the May 2017 terror attack, Paul Harvey, and has vowed to make good a promise to take his pal to an FA Cup final.

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Martin, 46, a life-long Red and an Old Trafford season ticket holder, was at Wembley on Sunday when United beat Brighton on penalties in the FA Cup semi-final, and Paul was his guest.

Victory for United meant the Martin could deliver on a promise to treat his pal to a day out at an FA Cup final - the Reds will play City in the showpiece back at Wembley on June 3.

Martin Hibbert (PA)

Shortly after the penalty shoot-out victory, Martin tweeted a picture of the two friends grinning broadly.

He told the M.E.N: "It was a great day. It was the first time Paul was at Wembley as well. It was a really good day."

Martin credits Paul with saving his life because the paramedic made a crucial decision to take him to Salford Royal Hospital, which has a major trauma unit, and to administer a blood clotting agent to prevent him bleeding to death. He said that had Paul followed instructions and taken him to Wythenshawe Hospital he would have died.

Martin Hibbert with his United flag. (Martin Hibbert)

The pair became friends following a TV documentary on the atrocity, and learned they were both United fans. Martin had Paul as a guest for a number of games at Old Trafford and promised, if they ever got there, he would take Paul to an FA Cup final.

Martin added: "It wasn't just about football. It was about love and friendship and what good can come out of a bad night."

The vice president of the Spinal Injuries Association, last year Martin climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and has so far raised £910,000 for the charity, close to the £1m target.

He is also lobbying government as he has discovered only one in three people who suffer spine injuries are referred to the charity as he was - he spent months at its clinic in Southport, one of 12 around the country.

"People are just left to rot - I find that unacceptable," he said.

Martin has already held positive talks with Tom Pursglove, the minister for disabled people, health and work.

Hibbert looks at Mount Kilimanjaro. (Martin Hibbert)

He admitted the public inquiry into the atrocity - whose three reports were highly critical of the response of the emergency and security services - had been 'hard to take'.

His said that since the bombing he had been back into hospital six times because his injuries left him vulnerable to infection.

"I never take anything for granted. One minute I'm OK and the next minute I can be blue-lighting it to Salford Royal with sepsis," said Martin.

Asked how his experience had changed him, he went on: "It's made me more determined I suppose. It's given me a thirst for life and to change lives for disabled people."

Daughter Eve, now 20, is studying at college in Bolton although she will continue to need support.

"The fact she's even going to college or is anywhere near a college is a reason to celebrate. She's doing really well. She's had a few setbacks but given her brain injury, she's doing really well and makes me proud every day," said Martin.

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