Tuesday, May 23, 2017

alongside the grief was an undeniable sense of community spirit.

One man who embodied this ethos was 35-year-old Sam Arshad, who co-owns the city's Street Cars Manchester taxi firm.

He happened to be driving past the arena on his way home when he heard screams.

"I was stuck in traffic and that's when I saw people rushing out," Arshad recalled. "I spoke to a police officer and he told me there had been an explosion and that we needed to evacuate the area."

He asked his fleet of drivers to turn off their their meters and not charge families, teenagers and children aiming to get home through the chaos to be reunited with their loved ones.

Arshad said he didn't think twice about giving free taxi rides to help those stranded.

"The audience was a very young audience and some people had come from far away, expecting to be picked up by their parents," he said.

He added that he "spoke to the drivers and pleaded with them that, if we could do anything, this was our time to help the people of Manchester. This is our city, at the end of the day … money's not everything, do you know what I mean?"

His drivers told him: "Whatever you want, gaffer, we're there for you," he recalled — gaffer being affectionate British slang for boss.

He is a Muslim, as are most of his drivers.