IN the aftermath of the Manchester Arena massacre the first reaction of nearby householders, hoteliers, publicans and taxi drivers was to open their doors and help.

This was the spirit of northern England at its best - people offering complete strangers a helping hand, a lift home, or a safe place of refuge while mams and dads were phoned to come and collect terrified offspring.

There is a risk that when terror strikes we turn in on ourselves, close ranks, view all foreigners with suspicion and pin the blame on anyone we don’t like the look of.   

The people of Manchester showed on Monday night that the best way to defy terror is to open up and show kindness. This is what makes folk who live in the north so special.

We’ve heard people from the south of the country remark upon the innate friendliness of northerners so often it has become a bit of a cliché. But it’s true, we do stop and talk to people who ask for directions, we do chat on public transport, we even smile at strangers in the street for god's sake. It's just what we do up here. 

We don’t love our children any more than anyone else does but it’s fair to say that many parents across our region will tonight give their kids a tighter than usual hug and feel thankful they're safe and weren't caught up in random, unimaginable tragedy.   

It is hard to dispel the nagging question: “where will the terrorists strike next?” Attacks in Paris, Brussels and Berlin all resonated in our part of the world but the Manchester atrocity was much closer to home. Youngsters and parents from our region were at the concert and some are currently among the missing and injured. 

The fear that we could be the next target is enough to make you stop kids from ever going out again. But this is not what we do up north. We are famous for living life to the full and enjoying a night out.

Our friendliness and openness are our strengths. We are northerners and nothing can ever change that.