A picture of a heavily-armed policeman blowing a kiss at two women in Manchester sums up the spirit of the city, it’s been claimed.
Photographer Natalie Thornley captured the image in the days after a deadly terror attack rocked the city, killing 22 people.
The officer pictured, Nick Downing, made the gesture to a pair of volunteers who were offering free hugs in Manchester city centre.
Thornley, posting the picture on Facebook, said: “I probably won’t capture a moment like this again.
“It really shows the spirit people in Manchester maintained tonight and the love that has spread throughout the city.”
Downing, usually based in north-east England, said he had been called to Manchester in the aftermath of the attack.
“Throughout the day the people and businesses of Manchester were extremely supportive – I can’t recall in the past 14 years such an outpouring of appreciation by the public,” he said. “I shook so many hands and was photographed more than on my own wedding day – the Manchester public were amazing.
“I am proud to have been able to support the people of Manchester, but I know if I hadn’t taken that call there are many other officers who would have done just the same.
“I would like to say that although I played a small part, there are many other officers who worked longer hours, in more challenging situations, all of whom have my utmost respect.”
Another picture, this time of a Muslim man comforting an elderly Jewish woman as she looked at a floral tribute, has also been hailed as encapsulating Manchester’s unity.
Images like these just melt my heart: Muslim man comforts elderly Jewish woman in symbol of Manchester’s unity https://t.co/CHSzxbji8U— T Miah (@taseulima) May 24, 2017
On the night of the attack, Mancunians offered their beds or lifts home to people stranded after the bombing – gestures that were praised by prime minister Theresa May as summing up the spirit of Manchester.
However the BBC revealed hate crimes in the city had doubled from 28 on Monday to 56 on Wednesday, including bomb threats, racist taunts and graffiti.