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Grenfell Tower victims remembered one year on amid a sea of green tributes

UK News | Published:

The tragedy claimed 72 lives while many survivors have not yet been allocated a permanent home.

Grenfell Tower survivors and bereaved families were joined by hundreds of mourners including popstars Adele and Stormzy to pay silent respect to the dead one year on.

Those touched by the tragedy which claimed 72 lives gathered near the foot of the block in west London for a moving ceremony which was closed to the public.

The 72 seconds of silence which fell over North Kensington shortly before midday led a minute’s commemoration observed across the country, including at Government buildings, the Palace of Westminster and by the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex in Chester.

Tower block fire in London
The crowd holds a heart shaped tribute and white roses outside St Helen’s Church (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Nicholas Burton, a former 19th floor resident whose wife, Maria del Pilar Burton, died in January, was the first of the bereaved to lay flowers.

He told the Press Association: “It was emotional, of course, but it felt good because everyone around is your community, they’re friends that you know so it didn’t feel uncomfortable or strange, everyone just wanted to hug or say hello.

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“I was just thinking about my wife during the minute’s silence, to tell you the truth, hoping she’s OK and I got a bit emotional.

“Then you remember everyone else who died in that tower and I know that I’m lucky to have had a bit of time with my wife.”

Singers Adele, Stormzy and Marcus Mumford all attended the event, having been vocal supporters of the families affected since the fire.

Tower block fire in London
A procession following the Grenfell Tower fire Memorial Service (David Mirzoeff/PA)

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“I was thanking them for all they’ve done behind the scenes that no-one knows about.

“It was just nice and normal, they may travel the world and are known to millions but down on the ground they are normal people with big hearts wanting to give, this is there community as well, they feel part of it.

“That persona of being famous is out of the window and now they are part of the Grenfell community.”

Tower block fire in London
Doves are released outside St Helen’s Church, North Kensington (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Many held huge green hearts emblazoned with words such as “humanity”, “love”, “unity” and “grace”.

An anguished mourner collapsed to the floor weeping as the march reached the base of the site.

Earlier, the day’s first service saw a community mosaic unveiled and a gospel choir perform songs including Bridge Over Troubled Water.

The names of all the dead, including stillborn baby Logan Gomes and Mrs Burton, were read out by different members of the community.

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People sign a remembrance wall near the Grenfell Tower (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Silence then fell over the gathered crowd, all still except for the rustle of leaves in the trees.

As the mourners stood quietly, a chill wind passed through the area, stark in contrast to the sweltering conditions on the day of the fire.

By the time all the wreaths had been laid, however, the sun had broken overhead, bathing the streets in warm light.

Members of the public were able to watch the ceremony from a giant screen erected outside nearby Kensington Aldridge Academy.

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Seventy-two people died in the Grenfell Tower fire (PA)

Parallel commemorations took place nearby, including an 11am service of remembrance at St Helen’s Church.

Among those in attendance was Tottenham MP David Lammy, who was friends with victim Khadija Saye.

He said: “ I don’t think a year ago we could have envisaged how little support the community would be given by the local authority and the Government, and that’s in their own words.

Grenfell Tower victims, where they were found
(PA Graphics)

“We need a redoubling of effort in the year ahead, it needs to be much, much better, we need to get those people housed, and we need to continue to support those in the north Kensington area that are deeply traumatised.”

A silent march is to take place around the neighbourhood on Thursday evening, attended by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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