The family of a care worker killed by the Manchester Arena explosion have praised the “heroic” efforts of a member of the public who stayed with him for almost an hour as he fought for his life, the inquiry into the bombing has heard.

John Atkinson, 28, from Radcliffe, was six metres away from bomber Salman Abedi when he detonated his shrapnel-laden device in the City Room foyer of the venue at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Music lover Mr Atkinson was a big fan of the singer and attended the performance on May 22 2017 with his lifelong friend, Gemma O’Donnell, the sister of his partner, Michael.

The public inquiry sitting in Manchester heard that when the smoke cleared from the blast both of them had been separated.

Former pizza shop boss Ronald Blake was waiting with wife Lesley to pick up their daughter when he was knocked to the ground.

The Bolton News: Police at the scene on the night of the Manchester Arena attack (Picture: PA)Police at the scene on the night of the Manchester Arena attack (Picture: PA)

When he got to his feet he noticed a man – Mr Atkinson – on the floor covered in blood.

Mr Blake dialled 999 within a minute of the explosion and relayed that Mr Atkinson was “really injured”, that blood was “pumping” from his leg and up to 40 people were also injured.

Mr Blake, who had no first aid training, used his wife’s belt to try and stem the flow of blood after he was told by the call holder to place a tourniquet on the right leg and apply pressure.

He held the tourniquet for nearly an hour before a paramedic first attended to Mr Atkinson shortly after he was carried downstairs on a makeshift stretcher to a casualty clearing area at Victoria railway station.

Mr Blake stated to the inquiry: “I have never had any first aid training and my natural instinct at the Arena was to try and stop the blood and keep him conscious. When I left him with the paramedics I thought he was going to survive.”

He said Mr Atkinson was conscious and talking while they were together and he said he was “shocked” to discover the next day, when he was being treated in hospital for his own injuries, that Mr Atkinson had died.

The Bolton News: John Atkinson, from Radcliffe, who died in the Manchester Arena bombingJohn Atkinson, from Radcliffe, who died in the Manchester Arena bombing

John Cooper QC, representing Mr Atkinson’s family, told Mr Blake: “I profoundly thank you on their behalf for the hard work, dedication and I can think of no better word than heroics that you performed on that night trying to save John. Their heartfelt thanks to you for that.”

He asked Mr Blake: “During the time you were dealing with John it was obvious, wasn’t it, that he was very, very severely injured?”

The witness replied: “Yes.”

Mr Cooper went on: “And you didn’t need, for instance, a medical qualification to see that, did you, it was obvious from the amount of blood he was losing?”

Mr Blake said: “Yes.”

The inquiry has heard expert opinion that timely medical intervention could have made a material difference to Mr Atkinson’s survivability and the issue would be “considered with care” over the days of evidence that will follow into the circumstances of his death.

Only three paramedics from North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) entered the City Room on the night – two of them just a few minutes before Mr Atkinson was evacuated.

On the available footage Mr Atkinson was not triaged, assessed or assisted by NWAS personnel for the 47 minutes he was in the City Room, the inquiry heard.

Mr Atkinson’s mother Daryl and father Kevan attended Wednesday’s hearing along with Mr Atkinson’s sisters Amy and Laura, with a third sister Stacey watching from home. Laura Atkinson stated the loss to the family was “like losing the biggest part of our puzzle”.