Grenfell survivors and bereaved lead minute’s silence on anniversary of fire
Seventy-two people were killed in the disaster on June 14 2017.
Silence fell over the streets surrounding Grenfell Tower as survivors and bereaved relatives led a national minute’s silence one year on from the fire.
Those touched by the tragedy which claimed 72 lives gathered near the foot of the block in west London to pay their respects at a ceremony which was closed to the public.
Many arrived dressed in green, the colour that has come to symbolise the terrible events of June 14 2017.
The silence was observed across the country, including at Government buildings, the Houses of Parliament and by the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex in Chester.
A voiceover at the start of the ceremony in north Kensington said: “Seventy-two people lost their lives who were our family, friends and community.
“We gather here today to remember them.”
The Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir opened the commemoration with a rendition of Lean On Me.
A community mosaic was then unveiled, followed by the reading of a passage from the Koran from a lectern near the perimeter of the tower.
Abdurahman Sayed, chief executive of the Al-Manaar mosque, said beforehand: “When residents, neighbours and strangers come from near and far in a spirit of togetherness, beautiful things can happen.”
Finally, the names of all the dead – including stillborn baby Logan Gomes and Maria del Pilar Burton, who died in January – were read out by different members of the community.
After each finished their turn, they said: “Forever in our hearts.”
The words were echoed back to them by the crowd.
A hush then fell over the gathered crowd as midday struck, all still except for the rustle of leaves in the trees.
As the mourners stood quietly, a chill wind passed through the area – a stark contrast to the sweltering conditions on the day of the fire.
The silence was followed by the gospel choir performing Bridge Over Troubled Water, the Simon and Garfunkel song which was recorded as a single in aid of those affected.
Members of the public were able to watch the ceremony from a giant screen erected outside nearby Kensington Aldridge Academy.
NHS support workers had also been dotted along the road in case any residents became distressed.
Parallel commemorations took place nearby, including an 11am service of remembrance at St Helen’s Church.
The hollowed skeleton of Grenfell Tower – still fenced off – is cloaked in white scaffolding and topped with tributes 12 months on.
Banners bearing the giant green hearts can be seen for miles, alongside the slogan: “Grenfell: Forever in our hearts.”
Lampposts, railings and zebra crossings throughout the neighbourhood were likewise festooned with green fabric, while a giant floral heart greeted commuters at nearby Latimer Road station.
The wall of handwritten tributes – last year a desperate mesh of missing posters – is now home to carefully organised shrines to the victims, lined by plant beds.
At the start of the day, 58-year-old survivor Antonio Roncolato, a former resident of the 10th floor, said: “Today is a time to reflect and to raise further awareness and make sure that the world is still listening because we don’t want this to happen ever again.”
A silent march is to take place around the neighbourhood on Thursday evening, attended by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
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