A FATHER who suffered life-changing injuries in the Manchester Arena terror attack has been overwhelmed by the support his family has received from the people of Bolton as he focuses on recovering and coming home later this month.

Martin Hibbert was just 10 metres away from the suicide bomber — and even looked into his eyes — when the device detonated as he was leaving the concert venue with his daughter.

Mr Hibbert sustained 22 shrapnel wounds leaving him paralysed.

His horrific injuries included a metal nut hitting his neck, severing his jugular vein and partially rupturing his carotid artery, causing severe blood loss.

Friends launched a fundraising campaign to support him and his family and more than £20,000 has been raised in 45 days.

Next month a celebrity charity T20 cricket match, in which Bolton Wanderers legend Kevin Davies will be playing, will be held in support of Mr Hibbert and his family.

Mr Hibbert is currently undergoing rehabilitation in Southport after being treated at a specialist spinal injuries unit as he prepares to come back to Bolton on August 22 and yesterday he was due to have an emotional reunion with the medical teams at Salford Royal Hospital who saved his life.

Self-employed Mr Hibbert, who celebrated his 41st birthday in hospital, said: "The support I have received is overwhelming with so many people making donations, people I know and those who have made anonymous donations.

"I have had so many positive messages of support, it is unbelievable, there are no words to describe the amount of support I have received."

Mr Hibbert is learning to do all those tasks he once took for granted, such as dressing and washing himself to regain his independence.

"I have been positive throughout but I have days which are not so good and have been told that is normal. There are days when I will have a wobble, I have cried for 20 minutes, at first it was a bit embarrassing, but have been told that it is normal and will I feel this in for months to come," he said.

Mr Hibbert added: "I feel frustration more than anything, when I drop the shampoo bottle in the shower or when I am dressing."

But just over two months on from the devastating attack, Mr Hibbert is looking forward to being back in Bolton, although given the nature of his injuries he is still in chronic pain, with wounds still needed to be dressed.

He said: "I am on 31 tablets a day. During the operation surgeons had to slice through my stomach and back.

“It will be humbling to meet the surgeon who operated on me.”

He added: “The medical staff have been great but I looking forward to going home to my family and getting some normality back in my life."

Mr Hibbert said: “I have muscles for the first time ever because in the spinal injuries unit the treatment was to get me fitter and strong.”

Mr Hibbert is now learning to adapt to a wheelchair, and told how the other day he practised doing wheelies in a bid to help him develop skills.

While in hospital he had the iconic bee tattoo from Kevin Paul, Ed Sheeran’s tattooist – the first person to have a tattoo in hospital — and told him he had looked into the eyes of terrorist Salman Abedi.

Mr Hibbert will be at the cricket match on September 3 and he will be featured on an ITV documentary to be aired August 30 following those affected, including families who lost people in the attack.

Matthew Eddleston, friend of Mr Hibbert said: "When we launched the fundraising campaign we did not know what to expect.

“The support has been overwhelming with so many heartwarming stories coming through. There was a girl who said she did not want presents for her birthday but for people to donate to the justgiving page.

“Another child held a bucket collection at their school during a production which raised £700.

“We expected to have raised £30,000 ahead of the cricket match. This money means the Martin can concentrate on his recovery and not have to worry about other things."

As well as Davies, confirmed players include Jussi Jaaskelainen, Warren Hegg, Jimmy Phillips and Coronation Street star, Colson Smith.

As well as the cricket match, there will be stalls, a bouncy castle, face painting, live music as well as a real ale tent, barbecue, hog roast, wood fired pizza, gin stall, cocktails and much more.

Stall holders have said they will donate what they raise to the family and businesses have also sponsored the event.

Mr Eddleston said: “It will be a family fun day and businesses can still get involved.”

The event will take place at Edgworth Cricket and Recreation Club.

To find out more visit the justgiving page https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/martinandevehibbert or facebook, Friends of Martin Hibbert.