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Manchester bombing victim’s body identified from Deirdre Barlow tattoo, family reveals

Written by on 14 September 2020

The family of a Coronation Street “superfan” who was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing identified his body from a tattoo of Deirdre Barlow on his leg, they have said.

Martyn Hett’s father and brothers made a video which showcased his talents as a social media star and soap opera impressionist, and called on others to “be more Martyn.”

“Over the years Martyn made many hilarious videos, enjoyed by many all over the world. We hope this lives up to his high standards,” his father said.

In the video he was seen doing impressions of Deirdre Barlow and Audrey Roberts, characters from the soap opera.

There were also clips from his appearances on Channel Four’s Come Dine with Me and Tattoo Fixers.

In the second he had a picture of Deirdre Barlow, while the character – played by Anne Kirkbride – was in prison, tattooed on his leg.

His father told the inquiry: “Sadly this was one of the reasons we were able to identify him so soon after the tragedy. After all, who else would have such a thing?”

He said that his son “loved life with passion, courage and laughter”, and encouraged others to “be more Martyn”, the title of a play written about him.

“In your life you should just go for it, just do it and don’t leave anything out,” Mr Hett said. “This is way Martyn lived his life and we should all be more Martyn.”

Anne Kirkbride with a wax work model of her Coronation Street character Deirdre Barlow

Paul Hett spoke next to his wife, Kath, Martyn’s step-mother, and his other sons, Dan and Matthew, in a film taken in his back garden.

He told the inquest his son was “so full of energy I would need hours and I would only scratch the surface”.

As a teenager he had “plucked up courage to tell us he was gay after stressing about it for a long time”.

“It was something that had been obvious to us for a long time,” Mr Hett said. “We sat him down and told him we didn’t love him because he was straight or gay, we loved him because he was Martyn.”

As a child he was constantly making up plays and forcing his brothers to take part “whether they wanted to or not”.

As an adult he worked as a social media manager for a PR firm called Rumpus, and started to post his own videos “every single one starring Martyn”.

MI5 missed 'highly relevant' intelligence on bomber Salman Abedi

MI5 missed ‘highly relevant’ intelligence on bomber Salman Abedi

“One constant thing was everyone was having fun,” his father said.

Martyn Hett even has fishing boat named after him in the Gambia, his father said.

“We have no idea how that came about as he had never been there but such was his influence,” Mr Hett added.

His brother, Dan, described Martyn as “by far away the most confident” of the brothers, and said he was the “loudest, the showman, the centre of attention”.

“It’s been three years but I still reflexively go to text him,” he added.

The family have their favourite photographs of their son around the house.

“We want to see them but every time we do they break our hearts,” his father told the inquiry.

Breaking down in tears, his father added: “His future was so bright. He had just been promoted and was ready for the holiday of a lifetime. This was cruel beyond belief.

“Due to Martyn’s huge social media following we have been asked many, many times by people, is Martyn Hett your son? We reply with all the pride in the world: ‘Yes Martyn’s our son.'”