Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Tributes to Damilola 10 years on

Family and friends of Damilola will remember him exactly a decade since his death

Family and friends of Damilola Taylor are gathering to remember his legacy exactly a decade since his death.

The 10-year-old moved to Britain from Nigeria a few months before he was jabbed in the thigh with a broken beer bottle by a gang of youths as he walked home from the local library after school.

The youngster, who fell foul of bullying brothers Ricky Preddie, 23, and Danny, 22, was found bleeding to death in a stairwell near his home in Peckham, south London, where local workmen tried to save his life. The pair were convicted of manslaughter and jailed for eight years in October 2006.

His father Richard Taylor, relatives and friends, will attend the second annual Spirit of London Awards developed with the Damilola Taylor Trust to honour the achievements of young people in the capital. London Mayor Boris Johnson will also be present at the event at the Indigo O2 in Greenwich to hand out an award.

Gary Trowsdale, of the Trust, said: "Damilola's legacy is enshrined in these awards. We are honouring the type of person he was turning into."

Mr Taylor earlier spoke of the difficulties in coming to terms with his son's killing, but said progress is being made. He said: "I'm really impressed with all the good things that have started coming up as a result of what happened to my son."

Joined by the youngster's close friend Grace Adegboydga, he told the BBC: "There's a lot that has been put in place since his sudden death. We have, over the past 10 years, been working with young people, we've done a lot of work with youths and I'm so glad that today we have smiles on our faces."

Miss Adegboydga, who believes she was the last person to see Damilola alive, said the events of November 2000 were "still fresh in my memory". She said: "Although it is 10 years, I do feel as if it was yesterday that he was taken away. I used to feel that I could (have been) able to help him at that particular time although I wasn't there. I still think that there was something I could have done but there really wasn't."

Mr Taylor added: "Dami's ambition was to go to university and study. What Dami can't achieve, if I see people like Grace achieve, it pleases my heart."

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "The whole nation mourned the tragic loss of Damilola and it is astonishing to think that 10 years have passed since the shocking murder of this bright, young child. His father Richard Taylor has worked tirelessly to help tackle youth crime and steer troubled kids away from violence. I'm at the Spirit of London Awards today to honour the kind of young person Damilola was turning into- full of ambition with a promising future and to reiterate my personal commitment as Mayor to work alongside good men like Richard in their vital and selfless task."