Theresa May, Sadiq Khan and Michael Gove pay tribute to 72 victims who died in Grenfell Tower fire at Westminster Abbey service five years after the tragedy
- Today is the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster – 72 people died in the worst fire for a generation
- Memorial events held in London, in the shadow of the ill-fated tower and at ‘wall of truth’ at base of building
- Tower remains wrapped with banner saying: ‘Grenfell forever in our hearts’. Billboards demand prosecutions
The names of the 72 men, women and children who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire have been read out at a memorial service to mark five years since the devastating blaze.
Multi-faith leaders read out the names of the victims of the tragedy, during a service at Westminster Abbey to remember those who perished in the tower block fire on June 14 2017.
The service was attended by MPs including Theresa May, who was prime minister at the time. After each group of names was read out, the congregation said in unison ‘Forever in our hearts’ – the phrase emblazoned across the top of the covered-up tower in north Kensington – as Mrs May and others bowed their heads in prayer.
After the service the abbey’s bells rang out 72 times and white roses were laid at the entrance of the church just off Parliament Square.
The accidental fire five years ago – the worst in Britain for more than a generation – was accelerated by deadly combustible cladding and many of those who died had been told to stay in their flats. 72 people were killed in the tragedy – but more are feared to have perished but were never identified.
And today with tears streaming down their faces, mourners dressed in green and clutching photographs of their loved ones as well as white roses, the fifth anniversary was marked. There are a number of other events planned for today, including outside the shell of Grenfell.
Today congregation stood as the Westminster Abbey special service choir sang Psalm 102:1: ‘Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my crying come unto thee.’
Mrs May, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Housing Secretary Michael Gove, former building safety and fire minister Stephen Greenhalgh, and shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy sat to the side of the pulpit. Journalist Jon Snow sat in the front row and also spoke to the congregation.
The names of the 72 men, women and children who lost their lives in the worst fire in a generation were also read out. Multi-faith leaders said the names of the victims of the tragedy, during a service at Westminster Abbey to remember those who perished in the tower block fire on June 14 2017.
After each group of names was read out, the congregation said in unison ‘Forever in our hearts’ – the phrase emblazoned across the top of the covered-up tower in north Kensington.
Theresa May and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove lower their heads in prayer at a memorial service to mark five years since the devastating blaze
People place white roses in memory of the 72 victims of the disaster as the bells of Westminster Abbey tolled 72 times
Theresa May and community volunteer Claire Walker speak before the Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan arrives for a Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey
Marlene Anderson, the daughter of victim Raymond Bernard speaks to mourners
A person walks past the Grenfell Tower Memorial Wall below the shell of the tower today
Grenfell Tower went up in flames in the early hours of June 14, 2017 and became the worst fire in a generation
Campaigners continue to question why nobody has ever been prosecuted in relation to the blaze
Opening the service, the very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, said the loss and anguish ‘are still vivid and sharp’ as the congregation gathered ‘in sorrow and in pain’.
He said: ‘Here we renew our commitment to remember those we have lost.
‘We gather as those who look for justice and a renewed commitment to securing safety in our homes, safety in times of fire.
‘Grateful for the support of the communities and individuals that have sustained the bereaved and the survivors over the last five years, we meet in faith and hope looking to a better, safer, surer future.’
It came as politicians paid tribute on social media, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeting: ‘Today marks five years since the Grenfell Tower fire took the lives of 72 people.
‘My thoughts are with the survivors, those who lost loved ones and the wider community.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer posted: ‘Five years on from the Grenfell tower fire we remember the 72 people killed.
‘The Grenfell community are courageous in their pursuit of justice and change.
‘We stand with them. To honour the memories of those lost we must prevent such a tragedy happening again.
Mr Khan tweeted: ‘Along with all Londoners I stand with the Grenfell community, today on the fifth anniversary of that terrible tragedy, and always.
‘Together, we will get the answers, justice and change that we need to protect communities in London and across the rest of our country.’
The Dean of Westminster David Hoyle addresses the congregation on the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy
People arrive for a Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey
Some in the congregation broke down as they held white roses remembering the dead
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick (centre) at the Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey in London
A community choir in green performs
A tree is decorated, near to the remains of the Grenfell Tower
It is one of several events at which Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and the community will gather on Tuesday, five years on from the deadliest domestic blaze since the Second World War.
At 2pm a 72-second silence will be observed at Westfield shopping centre, after which the names of the 72 victims will be read out over the public address system.
Later in the afternoon, cording around the tower in north Kensington will be removed so survivors, the bereaved and community groups can gather at its base for a multifaith service and lay flowers and wreaths.
Natasha Elcock, chairwoman of campaign group Grenfell United, said: ‘This week will be a difficult week for everyone affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.
‘For many of us the events five years ago are still so raw in our minds and our losses remain heavy in our hearts.’
In the evening, firefighters from across the country will form a guard of honour as members of the community take part in a silent walk starting from the base of the tower.
Pete Wolfenden, a firefighter who responded to the blaze, said: ‘It’s been five years since the Grenfell Tower fire and the thoughts and wishes go out from all London firefighters and fire control staff personnel to the survivors and friends and family of those who lost their lives in this appalling incident, the worst domestic blaze in living memory.
‘We also remember the brave and courageous members of all the emergency services who attended on the night and subsequent days, some of whom still suffer ill-health and bear the mental scars of attending that traumatic incident.’
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: ‘Firefighters and the Grenfell community have a bond that was forged in tragedy, and the Fire Brigades Union stands in solidarity with all bereaved, survivors and residents.
‘Today, on the fifth anniversary of the fire, it is a time for reflection, and to remember all those who lost their lives, and the loved ones they left behind. Their legacy lives on in the fight for justice.
‘The community have faced constant denials from those responsible for Grenfell being covered in cladding as flammable as petrol.
‘They have faced a wait for criminal charges that continues to this day. They inspire us all with their relentless fight for justice and we continue to stand in solidarity with them every step of the way.’
London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said he has found the strength and dignity of the Grenfell community ‘humbling and inspiring’.
He added: ‘I give my commitment that we will continue to listen and make changes to our service and work to drive improvements in the built environment to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again.’
A spokeswoman for campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell said: ‘Today we stand with the Grenfell bereaved, survivors and community. Forever in our hearts.
‘The Grenfell Tower fire has become a symbol of the social inequality and injustice that exists in our country.
‘Seventy-two people lost their lives, many people lost their homes, possessions, families and loved ones.
‘The first duty of any government is to protect the lives of its citizens. From the right to life and including the duty to provide adequate housing, these duties are enshrined in law and are where the Government has and continues to fail.’
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