Grenfell Tower fire: Silent procession marks first anniversary

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Relatives holding banners marched to the tower after the service

Hundreds of people have taken part in a silent procession in honour of the 72 people killed in the Grenfell Tower fire a year ago.

It follows a memorial service held at St Helen’s Church, near the tower in west London.

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 72-second national silence was also held at midday.

Media captionPeople fell silent across the country, including the Queen and Meghan

The silence was observed across the country, including at government buildings, Parliament and by the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex on a visit to Chester, where the monarch wore green in honour of Grenfell victims.

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.

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

After the service doves were released outside the church.

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

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Doves were released outside the service

Ms Mendy then led the silent procession towards Grenfell Tower, accompanied by other bereaved relatives carrying a large floral display spelling “Humanity for Grenfell”.

Walking behind were mourners with single white roses and green heart signs reading “strength”, “love”, “unity”, “grace”, “just us” and “truth”.

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Hundreds took part in the walk to the base of the tower

Wreaths were laid by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Duke of Kent during another service close to the base of the tower.

Grime artist Stormzy and singer Adele, who have been vocal supporters of Grenfell victims, were at the event.

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Stormzy joined the mourners for the service at the base of Grenfell Tower

In the evening a silent march is planned around the neighbourhood, attended by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ahead of the services, the tower and other London buildings were lit green at 00:54 BST, the time the fire was first reported in a flat on 14 June 2017.

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Wreaths were also laid at a memorial at the base of the tower

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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.

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”.

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MP David Lammy described the service at St Helen’s Church as “bittersweet”

A neighbourhood ‘adorned with green’

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By BBC reporter Alice Evans, in west London

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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London Ambulance Service staff joined people gathering at the foot of Grenfell Tower

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The anniversary was marked at London Fire Brigade’s HQ

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The England football team held a minute’s silence in Russia

The tower was recently covered in white sheeting with a large green heart featured on all four sides at the top of the block.

The heart symbol was created by the Grenfell Speaks campaign group to symbolise hope and unity after the fire.

Media captionMohammed and Zahra used to live in Grenfell Tower, but home has been a hotel room for the past year

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.”

Ahead of anniversary events, fires broke out at two high-rise blocks in Glasgow and London.

Eight people were rescued from a building in Gorbals area of Glasgow, while the blaze in a 20-storey block in Lewisham led to 150 residents being evacuated.

Grenfell Tower fire: Silent procession marks first anniversary

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