Speaking the Nations Mind

UK Remember Grenfell Fire Victims

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Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire have gathered for a memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral, which is being attended by members of the Royal Family and the prime minister.

About 1,500 people were invited to the multi-faith service, including the bereaved, survivors and rescue workers.

The Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are at the service.

The fire in the west London tower block – six months ago – claimed 71 lives.

The service is being held to give thanks to everyone who assisted on the ground at the time of the tragedy and since it – including the emergency services, the recovery team, the community, public support workers and volunteers.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are also attending.

As the memorial began, a Green For Grenfell banner adorned with a heart was carried into the cathedral.

Opening the service, Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s, said: “We come together as different faiths as we remembers those whose lives were lost.

“Be united in the face of suffering and sorrow,” he added.

Families held photographs of victims of the fire, while voice recordings from people the scene of the fire were played to the congregation.

Before the service, Bishop Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington and organiser, said there were still “so many unresolved issues in the community”.

“It’s very difficult to live with that level of uncertainty,” he told the Victoria Derbyshire programme, adding: “At the same time I think we do want to say that it is possible for life to be rebuilt.”

“There was a very strong desire within the local community to have the service here, because faith is very important to a lot of people in the local area, and that can bring a real sense of strength to people.”

One of those in attendance is Tiago Alves, who escaped the blaze with his family.

He told BBC Breakfast his thoughts would be with bereaved families during the memorial: “Today is a day not about survivors; today is purely about the bereaved, their families and the loved ones they have lost.”

He said the memorial would be “quite emotional” and would bring back a lot of awful memories for many people.

But he added: “The reason we are doing this today is so that people never forget – we want people to remember.”

Clarrie Mendy, who lost her cousin Mary and Mary’s daughter, Kadije Saye, in the fire, said the service was “what the community needs, what the survivors need”.

“It is a very emotional day,” she said. “I just hope everybody will get something from it.”

Councillor Elizabeth Campbell, leader of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is not attending the service, after some families said they did not want the council there in an official capacity.

The final death toll from the fire was put at 53 adults and 18 children, including stillborn baby Logan Gomes, following an arduous process of recovering and identifying remains from the block.

During the service a banner with the Grenfell Heart will be displayed, while there will be performances from the Ebony Steel Band, Portobello Road Salvation Army Band, an Islamic girls’ choir from the Al Sadiq and Al Zahra Schools, and St Paul’s Cathedral Choir.

A pre-recorded sound montage of anonymous voices from the Grenfell community will also be played.

At the end of the service, bereaved families and survivors will leave the cathedral in silence, holding white roses.

Meanwhile, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said the force would do “whatever it takes” to bring to justice anyone who had committed a criminal offence linked to the fire.

Ms Dick said officers would investigate “meticulously, fairly and fearlessly”, but said she would be “vey surprised” if the criminal investigation was completed within the next 12 months.

Scotland Yard has previously said it will be considering both individual and corporate manslaughter charges.

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