Inkluded guest blogger and Manchester-based tattoo enthusiast Chloé Vaughan wanted to write about her own experiences of the recent Manchester Tattoo Appeal…
The bees keep buzzing.
Manchester is a resilient city.
After the explosion at the Manchester Arena on the 22nd of May which resulted in the death of 22 people and the injury of over 120 others, the city united and faced grief with a remarkable amount of strength of love.
This love has manifested itself in many ways. In thousand of flowers laid in various locations across the region. In hospital visits from the Queen. In live music gigs to raise money for the families affected. All of these things praise the hard and tireless work of our community, and the hospital staff and emergency services.
The love has also manifested itself in the form of The Manchester Bee, a historic symbol of the city and the people. The image was established during the 18th century when Manchester was a beacon of industrialisation. These past weeks, tattoo shops across the region have opened their doors in a mark of solidarity and offered tattoos of the bee for £30-£50 with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity set-up to help those affected.
When I saw adverts on social media, I immediately tried to book in. Not only could I show support for the victims and raise money through this tattoo, but I could do it in a way that would mark my respect and last a lifetime.
One such shop was Sword and Sparrow in Prestwich. I was lucky enough to get a slot so arrived as the shop was opening, only to find a line of people stretching around the corner. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see so many others in a queue before.
I went in, gave my name, and waited my turn. Amongst me was a group of young women, around 18 years old, a couple getting tattooed together, and perhaps most touching, a family getting tattooed together. There were three generations waiting for the bee: a grandmother, her daughter, her daughter-in-law, her son and her granddaughter. Even her young great-granddaughter came and showed a curious interest in her great grandma’s new ink on her wrist. For a lot of people in the room and in the queue it was their first tattoo, one they were happy to give their ‘tattoo virginity’ to.
Sword and Sparrow were happily shocked by the number of people wanting to be tattooed. They even had to put out a call for another artist to help them out on the day in order to tattoo as many people as possible. They opened their doors at 8am in the morning, and didn’t stop tattooing until gone midnight Sunday morning. 16.5 hours straight and they didn’t break so that they could fit as many people in as possible.
In total, Sword and Sparrow raised a truly staggering amount of £7,625 for charity. The day personified the hard-working, generous and loving spirit of Manchester and that of the bee. The Manchester Tattoo Appeal has exceeded its original target of a quarter of a million, and studios are still going.
What happened in Manchester was nothing short of a tragedy. What the people of Manchester, and the people of the world have shown is nothing short of inspiring. The Manchester Tattoo Appeal is evidence that, even when down, even when distraught, even when brought to our knees, the people of Manchester will do just one thing.
I have no doubt that these bees will continue to buzz for years to come.