Utøya veterans prepare island for ceremony

PICTURES - Volunteers have rallied since May to prepare Utøya island for this weekend's two-year anniversary of the terror attack, which left 69 people dead on the island where Labour Party youth have spent their summers for generations.

Utøya veterans prepare island for ceremony
Tove Lise Granli's son came back alive from Utøya two years ago. Photo: Vegard Grøtt/Scanpix

Some 30 volunteers have spent more than 800 working hours on making sure Utøya can welcome guests this weekend. The anniversary of the terror attacks falls on Monday, but relatives, friends and others who want to pay their respect will be welcomed to the island from Saturday onwards. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is scheduled to place a wreath on the island to honour the victims who lost their lives during the Labour Party youth wing's (AUF) traditional summer camp.

Tove Lise Granli is one of the team of volunteers. Her son Jo, 17, escaped the massacre alive by pretending to be dead among the stones by the old pump house. While he was not physically harmed, his girlfriend was shot in one lung. 

SEE IMAGES: Labour Party rebuilds Utoya island to honour terror attack victims 

"I feel extremely fortunate that my son came back home to me," Granli told the NTB news agency on Wednesday, adding that it was important to "reclaim the island". She shared that sentiment with other volunteers. While four decades have gone by since Bernt Oremo himself visited the island in his youth, he has spent his summer so far cleaning and painting the main house, as well as erecting scaffolding and repairing a staircase. 

"It is important for me to contribute, and it did good to come out and see the island also," Oremo said. 

Granli, who first visited Utøya in 1982, returned already one month after the attack. Her son and his girlfriend showed her where they had hidden when homegrown terrorist Anders Behring Breivik went on a coldblooded rampage on the island.

"For each time I return to the island, it becomes easier. That's why it felt meaningful to help out as a volunteer," she said.

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