Photography by Katie Jones & Katie O'Neill
Martin Hibbert suffered life changing injuries in the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack, he was the closest casualty to the bomb blast to survive. He suffered 22 shrapnel wounds and underwent lifesaving surgery at Salford Royal Hospital. Martin was at the Ariana Grande show that night with his 14-year-old daughter Eve. Eve sustained a "significant" brain injury and Martin suffered a severed spinal cord, which left him paralysed from the waist down.
Martin spent six months in hospital and was told he would never walk again, but with the support of the Spinal Injuries Association (of which he is Vice President), he is determined to keep going and turn an appalling act of terror into a force for good.
St Anne's Square - The city's emotional response to the 2017 Arena bombing
Martin conquers Mount Kilimanjaro
Now a wheelchair user, Martin in 2022 famously climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain which coincided with the Paralympics being played out in Tokyo. Using a specially-adapted wheelchair, it took Martin and his support team 5 days to scale the mountain. He used the climb to raise funds and send a message of optimism and inclusivity for life after injury.
Martin was born in Bolton in 1976. He grew up in Bolton and studied at Turton High School, Bolton College & then Hull University. Martin moved to Chorley after he was injured in the Arena attack. For 18 years he had a successful career in Private Wealth Management. In 2015 he created Synergy Sports Management acting as agents for female footballers.
A lifelong Manchester United fan, Martin chose Old Trafford as the location for the photography.
I went to my first Utd game when I was 7 and it was on 23/4/83 v Watford and we won 2-0. It was a big deal as all my family were and still are Bolton Wanderers fans. Going to Old Trafford for the first time and walking out into the Theatre of Dreams, the crowd singing seeing captain marvel Bryan Robson in the beautiful red shirt and white shorts has stayed with me to this day. Remember looking around at every one in the crowd of just over 43k and I knew I was in the right place and it’s where I belonged and that’s where my love for Utd started. Being a young Utd fan the club consumed my life. My bedroom was a shrine to the club and players from the duvet cover and wallpaper to the countless posters on the wall. I look at the club and it’s history of overcoming adversity and never giving up and it’s certainly shaped me as a person.
Manchester United fanatic - Martin Hibbert
This award is for the surgeon who operated on me that night for fourteen hours at the Salford Royal, everybody involved in the climb, all those at SIA who have supported me and to everybody who has made me who I am to be able to sit here today.
In addition to his fundraising activities, Martin is a motivational speaker and also hosts a weekly slot on BBC Radio Manchester reviewing uplifting stories from the week’s news.
Pride of Britain Regional Fundraiser Award winner, 2022.
THE SHOOT: Old Trafford Football Stadium
Season ticket holder Martin, a fanatical Manchester United Fan considers Old Trafford his second home
Student reflection: Katie Jones
Meeting Martin for the first time and learning about his incredible journey was wonderful. I was so excited to be photographing him for the Greater Mancunians project.
We started the photoshoot outside the Old Trafford stadium, next to the 'United Trinity' statue, where we had to tackle the intense winter sunlight to get the best image. We placed Martin in the shade of the statue so we could still capture the stadium behind him, we used a reflector to bounce light into the shaded areas of the shot, this helped us pull out a few great images. We then moved into the stadium grabbing the opportunity to position Martin in-front of the team dug outs next to the pitch. Martin was easy to work with and open to suggestions and poses and was clearly enjoying experience of being pitch side in his beloved Old Trafford. We completed the shoot up in the disabled seating area, where we took the opportunity to photograph Martin against the backdrop of the stadium.
Photographing Martin in such an icon location was a fantastic opportunity for me to test my photography skills and build my confidence and communication skills, which will certainly help me in future projects. Being apart of the Greater Mancunians was just amazing and I would love to be considered for future shoots.