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Grenfell Tower fire: Minute’s silence marks one-year anniversary

BBC

The names of the 72 people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire a year ago have been read out at a memorial service close to the building in west London.

Candles were lit in St Helen’s Church and doves were released outside.

Speaking at the service, Labour MP David Lammy said it was a “bittersweet” moment as the community celebrated their unity but mourned those lost.

A national minute’s silence was observed at midday, while the England football team held its own in Russia.

Clarrie Mendy, who lost two family members in the fire and organised the anniversary service attended by several hundred people, said: “It’s a service of healing, community, inclusivity and solidarity, to know we are not alone.”

Bereaved families were invited to light candles in memory of their loved ones in the North Kensington church, which had been decked out in green – a colour adopted by survivors and relatives of those who died.

There were green ribbons tied around pillars, scarves on seats and banners were hung for the service, where Amazing Grace was sung.

Hundreds of white roses were handed out to the crowds of people gathered outside the church.

Bishop of Kensington Dr Graham Tomlin said there was an atmosphere of “quiet dignity, a sombre mood in the air”.

Ahead of the service, the tower and other London buildings were lit green at 00:54 BST, the time a fire was reported in a flat last June.

Grenfell’s surrounding tower blocks were also illuminated in the early hours of Thursday

The victims’ names were also read out at 01:30 BST during a vigil at another church in the area – St Clemet’s where people fleeing Grenfell Tower had gathered on the night of the fire.

A mosaic was also unveiled at the foot of the tower featuring a series of hearts pointing inwards.

Natasha Elcock, who was one of the last residents to be rescued from the tower and is now a member of the survivor group Grenfell United, has praised the community’s response to the fire.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “We could have been the most angry community out there because of what happened, but we’ve chosen to be dignified, be calm.

“Ultimately, that’s earned us respect.”

Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter that she wanted to “pay tribute” to the victims’ “family, friends and loved ones for the strength and dignity they have shown”.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said that despite a year having passed, the tragedy “remains very real, raw and painful for many people, every day”.

The neighbourhood surrounding Grenfell Tower is adorned with green as people gather at the base of the block for Thursday’s commemoration events.

Bus stops and lampposts, which still have sticky tape markings left from where posters of missing loved ones were hopefully displayed, are now brightened by the green scarves and ribbons.

A choir practises beautiful renditions of Bridge Over Troubled Water and Lean On Me.

The covered, charred remains of the tower paints an eerie, harrowing backdrop.

These creative, colourful and passionate tributes are testament to the vibrancy and love within the Grenfell community.

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