Service remembers five killed in Grenfell Tower fire
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, joined a congregation at St Helen’s Church in north Kensington.
Family and friends of five of those killed in the Grenfell Tower fire, including two child victims, have gathered to remember their loved ones.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, joined a congregation in north Kensington, little more than half a mile from the scene of the disaster six weeks ago.
The lives of artist Khadija Saye, her mother Mary Mendy, Berkti Haftom and her 12-year-old son Beruk, as well as five-year-old Isaac Paulos were being celebrated at the ecumenical service in St Helen’s Church.
A devastating fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey block of flats in west London, on June 14, killing at least 80 people.
Thursday’s service opened with a recording of Michael Jackson’s Heal The World, and the Gospel For Grenfell choir later sang a number of well-known songs including Something Inside So Strong.
Ms Saye’s cousin Adelaide Mendy recalled the fear and panic on the night of the fire, and her desperate hope that her relatives would not be caught up in it.
She told those gathered: “I felt an excruciating and an almost unbearable pain. I felt powerless at the thought that there was nothing else that I could’ve done.”
She said Grenfell Tower had been a place of joy and happy memories for her, before the destruction and terror caused by the fire.
“The flats where families got together for parties and where social gatherings were held. A place where love was given and received, where endless joy was felt.
“That happy place. Now stands a war zone, dipped in blood, black, filled with ashes and skeletons. With the silent voices that will never be heard.”
She paid tribute to her cousin and aunt, saying Ms Saye’s love for art and her work had “inspired people to do better and make a difference”.
A tribute read on behalf of David Lammy MP, a family friend, recalled the pair as “two beautiful souls”.
Another cousin, Ambrose Mendy, gave a passionate speech in which he described the disaster as “a disgrace” and “disgusting”.
He said: “People’s lives have been taken away from them, generations of hope, homes which people have invested their life in, are gone.
“This tall coffin in the air, is perhaps the best way to describe it. What’s going to happen to it? How long is it going to remain there as a timely reminder of man’s inhumanity to man?”
Ms Mendy’s brother Paul said: “To those who did not know her, I say to you: ‘I have never seen a more hardworking single mother whose love for her only daughter knew no bounds’. Financially independent, generous to a fault, headstrong and always wore her heart on her sleeve.”
Many in the congregation clapped the Archbishop as he called for justice for the victims and survivors.
He said: “All of the stones, all of the tiny things, like a grain of sand, must be turned in order to discover the truth.
“Because truth sets all of us free. And when truth is discovered then the possibility for justice can be there and the possibility for reconciliation.”