Saturday, May 18

Londoners silence to remember the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire



A minute’s silence to remember the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire has been observed nationally at midday on the one-year anniversary of the disaster.

The west London tower was among a dozen buildings that were on Thursday illuminated in green to mark a year since the devastating blaze that killed 72.

Around the foot of Grenfell Tower, a sound system and giant screen were erected. A podium was placed in front of the site perimeter where a giant heart sign with Grenfell written across the middle rests.

In the streets surrounding the site of the fire which is now covered by scaffolding and banners – lampposts and zebra crossings are festooned with green material, a colour that has become synonymous with the tragedy.

Silence fell over the crowds shortly before midday, a tribute observed immaculately by those on the surrounding roads. A gospel choir marked the end of the minute’s quiet by gently rising into a performance of Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Mourners could be seen wiping away tears as the performance progressed, while the crowd further back swelled in number.

Bereaved relatives and survivors gathered near the foot of Grenfell Tower for a private ceremony to commemorate the dead.

Many arrived dressed in green, the colour that has come to symbolise the disaster.

The Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir opened the commemoration in North Kensington with a rendition of Lean On Me.

A community mosaic was then unveiled, followed by the reading of a poem and a Qur’an passage, from a lectern near the perimeter of the tower.

Finally, the names of all the dead – including stillborn baby Logan Gomes and Maria del Pilar Burton, who died in January were read out before the minute’s silence.

The names of the dead were read out by several members of the community from a lectern at the foot of the tower.

After each person took their turn reading names, they said: “Forever in our hearts.”

The silence was followed by the gospel choir performing Bridge Over Troubled Water, the Simon and Garfunkel song that was recorded as a single in aid of those affected.

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

Commuters at nearby Latimer Road Tube station were also greeted on Thursday morning by a floral heart at the entrance.

The England squad also observed a silence. Gareth Southgate and his 23-man squad continued their preparations for the World Cup with a morning session at Spartak Zelenogorsk, before showing their respect for those who lost their lives in last summer’s tragedy.

London goes green to mark Grenfell one year on

Earlier, the London Eye, Downing Street and other buildings near to the site of the most deadly domestic blaze since the Second World War turned green in the early hours of Thursday.

June 14 marks 12 months since a small kitchen fire in the west London high-rise took hold, with the buildings lit with green lights from 12.54am – the time of the first 999 call.

A vigil took place at a church near the block with the names of the 72 victims read out at 1.30am.

The display is one of a series of commemorations and vigils taking place this week as the public inquiry takes a step back.

The tower is now completely covered by white sheeting, with banners featuring the green Grenfell heart and the words Grenfell forever in our hearts emblazoned across the four highest floors.

In the afternoon, the community is expected to congregate at the nearby Wall of Truth ahead of the silent march which will set off around 7pm.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will join survivors, the bereaved and others at the dignified gathering, which has taken place every month since the fire.

After the silent march, families will come together for a community Iftar to break bread with those fasting over Ramadan.

The following day, schools across the country are expected to take part in Green for Grenfell, a day to celebrate the spirit of people coming together.

The bereaved and survivors group Grenfell United hopes the idea will become an annual event which will continue the unity and support demonstrated by the local community after the fire.

On Thursday and Friday, more than 2,000 schoolchildren across the UK will sing Grenfell From Today a charity single inspired by Cornwall Hugs Grenfell, an organisation offering holidays to those affected.

It comes as latest figures show that 68 families will spend the anniversary in emergency accommodation, mainly hotels. Some 52 households are in temporary accommodation and 83 families are in permanent homes, Kensington and Chelsea Council said.

The local authority declined to specify the approximate locations of those now in temporary and permanent homes, including how many people are living in or outside the borough.