Martyn Hett: The young man loved online who died in Manchester bombing

The young PR manager's Deidre Barlow tattoo and love for his mum captured hearts

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 24 May 2017 10:32 BST
Martyn Hett
Martyn Hett (Twitter/@danhett)

Martyn Hett, a young man who died in the terror attack at Manchester Arena, was beloved on the internet.

Mr Hett was 29 years old and was described as “iconic and beautiful” by his friend Russell Hayward, who announced his death. “He left this world exactly how he lived, centre of attention,” Mr Hayward wrote.

The young PR manager had hundreds of friends – and thousands of loving fans online, after a series of appearances on TV.

In 2016, one of Mr Hett’s tweets went viral after he shared a photo of his mum’s stall at a craft fair. She hadn’t sold anything, he told the world, and his heart was breaking for her.

Mr Hett’s friends – many of whom had never met him – rallied to help his mum by buying things online. His first customer was a close friend who bought a knitted purple monster, and Mr Hett described how his heart was melting and his mum was delighted too.

Twitter followers ended up buying absolutely everything in his mum’s store. Just days after she’d struggled to sell anything at all at the craft fair, her entire online shop was completely sold out.

His mum went on to gain her own Twitter fanbase, and the pair were interviewed on TV.

He likened himself to Sex And The City’s Samantha as he co-ordinated her TV appearances.

But Mr Hett had already made fans and friends across the internet. In particular, he was famous for his Deidre Barlow tattoo, which he appeared on TV to have covered up – by another, much larger picture of the Coronation Street character.

His original tattoo was just the word Deidre, written on his ankle in script. He described how he and his boyfriend had gone for a haircut, “still drunk from the night before”, and “for some reason I decided to get Deirdre tattooed on my ankle”.

He’d picked the character because he was a Coronation Street superfan, his flat decked out with memorabilia from the soap. But he liked Deidre most of all, he said: “I love how common she is – a bit like me”.

Mr Hett would go on to have his tattoo fixed – with a huge image of Deidre Barlow behind bars on his ankle.

The finished work
The finished work (Channel 4)

Mr Hett’s stunning tattoo – and joyous personality while having it done – was one of the many things that would garner friends and fans from across social media.

Even on the day of the attack – two years after getting it – Mr Hett’s tattoo was still famous. He’d been featured on BBC 5 Live as perhaps the biggest Coronation Street superfan in the world.

And the year before his appearance on tattoo fixers, Mr Hett had appeared on Come Dine With Me along with his boyfriend. He described how he had suffered with Twitter trolling after the 2014 appearance and was frustrated by the editing of the show – but that he had enjoyed his time on the show and the £1,000 prize money he took home from winning it.

“If my one-hour of fame taught me anything,” he wrote in an Attitude piece about the experience, “it’s that there’s always going to be a twat behind a keyboard that secretly wishes they could win £1,000 by drinking loads of wine on TV – like we did.”

Mr Hett’s friends and fans have paid tribute to him online since news broke that he died at the concert. He was described unanimously as hilarious, wonderful and fabulous.

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