Grenfell Tower fire: Minute’s silence marks one-year anniversary

Grenfell memorial serviceImage copyright
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A year after the Grenfell Tower fire, the names of the 72 people who died as a result have been read out at a memorial service in west London.

Speaking at the service, Labour MP David Lammy said it was a “bittersweet” moment as the community celebrated their unity but mourned those lost.

Green banners decked out St Helen’s Church, as Amazing Grace was sung.

A national minute’s silence was observed at midday, while the England football team held its own in Russia.

Clarrie Mendy, who lost two family members in the fire and organised the anniversary event, said: “It’s a service of healing, community, inclusivity and solidarity, to know we are not alone.”

Bishop of Kensington Dr Graham Tomlin said there was an atmosphere of “quiet dignity, a sombre mood in the air”.

The tower and other London buildings were lit green at 00:54 BST, the time a fire was reported in a flat last June.

A vigil took place at a church near the block, where the victims’ names were read out at 01:30.

Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter that she wanted to “pay tribute” to the victims’ “family, friends and loved ones for the strength and dignity they have shown”.

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Natasha Elcock, who was one of the last residents to be rescued from the tower and is now a member of the survivor group Grenfell United, has praised the community’s response to the fire.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “We could have been the most angry community out there because of what happened, but we’ve chosen to be dignified, be calm.

“Ultimately, that’s earned us respect.”

She added: “We really want to ensure that we change so much that Grenfell is not remembered because it killed 72 people but because it has a legacy of change – that behaviours change within social housing, the way people are treated, how they are listened to.”

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said that despite a year having passed, the tragedy “remains very real, raw and painful for many people, every day”.

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The Queen and Duchess of Sussex observed the minute’s silence in Widnes, Cheshire

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Labour MP David Lammy described the service as “bittersweet”

A neighbourhood ‘adorned with green’

By BBC reporter Alice Evans, in west London

The neighbourhood surrounding Grenfell Tower is adorned with green as people gather at the base of the block for Thursday’s commemoration events.

Bus stops and lampposts, which still have sticky tape markings left from where posters of missing loved ones were hopefully displayed, are now brightened by the green scarves and ribbons.

A choir practises beautiful renditions of Bridge Over Troubled Water and Lean On Me.

The covered, charred remains of the tower paints an eerie, harrowing backdrop.

These creative, colourful and passionate tributes are testament to the vibrancy and love within the Grenfell community.

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Reuters

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The England football team held a minute’s silence in Russia

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PA

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Grenfell’s surrounding tower blocks were also illuminated in the early hours of Thursday

Media captionMohammed and Zahra used to live in Grenfell Tower, but home has been a hotel room for the past year

The tower has recently been covered in white sheeting with a heart featured on all four sides at the top of the block.

The anniversary comes as an inquiry into the fire continues its fact-finding stage.

During the inquiry, the 999 call made by Behailu Kebede, in whose kitchen the fire started, was released.

The inquiry heard that Mr Kebede, who also alerted his flatmates and fourth-floor neighbours as soon as he saw smoke, did “the right thing from start to finish”.

Media captionGrenfell Tower: Audio of first 999 call

Kensington and Chelsea Council said 52 households remained in temporary accommodation and 83 are in permanent homes.

Another 68 are in “emergency” accommodation – 42 in hotels, 22 in serviced apartments, and four staying with family or friends.

Member of the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign group Yvette Williams said: “We want the nation to keep Grenfell in their consciousness.

“The anniversary is about love and support – the fight can start again on Friday and Saturday – and keeping that humanity going on that day.”

Media captionRemembering those that lost their lives

Ms Mendy added: “We’ll be releasing 73 white doves. Why 73 instead of 72? One for the unknown.

“If there were more than 72, we will put one for the unknown.”

At the service, 400 white roses will be given for people to carry from the church to the tower.

The community will also congregate at the Grenfell wall at 19:00, before walking to the tower in silence.

Grenfell Tower fire: Minute’s silence marks one-year anniversary

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