LOVE shone brighter than the sun for Manchester Arena blast victim Alison Howe as hundreds gathered the celebrate the life of the adored Royton mum.

Over three hundred people gathered at Oldham St Annes ARLFC on Saturday on what was a fittingly beautifully sunny day.

In fact the weather was only out-shone be the out-pouring of love for 45-year-old Alison who lost her life a year ago as she waited for her daughter Darcie at the Ariana Grande concert.

Organised by her very best friends, Adele Taylor, Lucy Eaton, Karen Parkin, Andrea Wall, Kathleen Costello, Nicola Davies, Liz Davies, Sam Gadsby Tracy Green, Donna Kennedy and Debbie Fawcett, is was a time to remember, reflect and reminisce.

The event kicked off with a minute's round of applause before a rugby match between St Annes and East Leigh which the home team won 52-6.

There was free food for all and lots of sweets for the dozens of youngsters who attended followed by a disco in the clubhouse.

The whole event was sponsored by Cheadle-based brick manufacturer Wienerberger which also sponsored the players' special one-off shirts which were auctioned off after the memorial match.

The auction raised a staggering £3,000 which will be donated to Dr Kershaw's Hospice and Royal Manchester Children's Hospital where some of the victims of the arena bombing are still being treated.

St Annes ARLFC paid £600 for the number "9" shirt in honour of former player Steven Crowther who passed away suddenly last year at the age of 39.

Steven played as a hooker for St Annes and the shirt was given to his father, Ronnie, as a memorial gesture.

At 5pm hundreds of pink balloons were released in memory of Alison, who was mum to daughters Sasha and Darcie, stepsons Jordan, Jack, Lewis and Harris, wife of Steve Howe and daughter of Susan Cann.

The event, led by Adele, landlady of the Blue Belle pub, in Rochdale Road, who knew for Alison for 30 years, said it was a fitting tribute to a fantastic friend.

"It was just perfect," said Adele.

"There were really any tears. We were all really proud of everyone who came together to respect Alison as a person.

"We really did have the best day to celebrate our friend's life and we told stories of our times spent together which we knew she would have been having a laugh about if she was here with us. It was an amazing day.

"I'd like to thank everyone at St Annes, they were brilliant, and to club steward Mark Smith and DJ Neil Aylett."