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Yasmin Reevell Oct 21

Brave Manchester Arena bombing survivor Yasmin now helping NHS recreate disaster scenes

Just six years on from being caught up in the Manchester Arena Ariana Grande Concert bombing, inspirational York College University Centre graduate Yasmin Reevell has a new job helping the NHS recreate disaster scenes.

Yasmin, 24, completed her BA (Hons) Media Make-up, Special Effects and Hair Design studies this summer and, along with four fellow Sim Balk Lane graduates, has been employed by Thirsk-based medical simulation specialists Simbodies.

As well as the NHS, Simbodies also work with the Military Services, replicating combat settings to ensure that medical students experience a highly immersive training environment and learn high-risk procedures in a low-risk secure situation.

The skills that Yasmin, who won the prestigious Principal’s Award at our 2023 Graduation Ceremony, learned during her degree, therefore, are now being utilised as she designs and produces bodies and body parts for simulated patients needing urgent medical attention.

It is a brave career move for somebody who witnessed the devastation on that awful night in May 2017 when 22 people lost their lives and hundreds were injured at the pop concert – a tragedy that has left her suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) ever since.

Having gone through such a terrifying ordeal, though, Yasmin has a genuine awareness of the importance of the work she is now doing, making her believe there was an element of fate attached to the job opportunity.

“Without the prosthetics and silicone dummies that we give to the Military and NHS, they wouldn’t know what to do when things like the Manchester Attack happen,” she pointed out. “I’ve been doing the job for just over a month now and everything happens for a reason.”

Yasmin, from Sutton upon Derwent, attended the concert just over a fortnight after her 18th birthday as she was coming to the end of two years studying Level 3 Music courses at York College.

She subsequently enrolled on a Music degree at university only to drop out as she started to lose interest and her PTSD intensified.

More difficult times followed before Yasmin decided to resume her Higher Education in familiar surroundings.

Describing that journey, she said: “One of the main reasons I dropped out of my initial degree was because of PTSD. I was struggling and going through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

“I was also living on my own and the university was too big. I didn’t like it, so I dropped out.

“Starting university at that point wasn’t working for me. I had to choose one or the other and my mental health was something I needed to put first.

“I also felt the course I chose wasn’t for me. I had a few years of not really doing anything, before I focussed on what I really wanted to do.

“During (the Covid) lockdown was when I started doing a lot more make-up. I thought that maybe I could do that as a degree.

“My boyfriend then went to uni, so I thought I should too. I knew York College already, because I’d been there before, so I felt I knew what I was doing.

“I really liked the sound of the course, especially as it had three different aspects to it - hair, media make-up and special effects. I had to do a portfolio at the beginning to demonstrate that I could do make-up and, from the moment I started the degree, it was really good.”

Having battled such strong personal challenges to resume her studies, Yasmin then demonstrated tremendous courage to choose PTSD as the theme for her major project on the course.

Despite the concerns of her tutors that emotions from the past could be triggered, Yasmin was determined to share her story to help others who might be suffering from the disorder.

She consequently produced powerful, thought-provoking images by utilising her specialist make-up and photography skills to highlight the importance of understanding the long-lasting effects of PTSD and to educate people that there is a way to rebuild.

“My topic was PTSD,” Yasmin said. “The tutors said, if I needed anything, they were there for me, and I found that choosing it helped me to focus on PTSD.

“I did wonder if it was the right thing to be doing but, in the grand scheme of things, I knew I’d been through enough to know how to deal with it. It was helping me and other people by shining a light on it.

“Not many people really know the effects of PTSD and how it can affect you, so I tried to show that with my images. I did an image with an MRI scan on the brain to demonstrate that PTSD is a mental condition and you can’t always see it.

“Sometimes my PTSD can flare up and it’s not always visible, so it’s about educating people on the signs. Another image I did was one with no facial features.

“There were no eyes or mouth to show the lack of presence in a person because there were a lot of times where I’d be disassociating. You’re there and then you’re not.”

See below for examples of Yasmin's work for her final project...