Belfast Telegraph

Grenfell Tower children to deliver alternative Christmas message

Five young survivors will share what Christmas means for them six months after they lost their homes.

Children who survived the Grenfell Tower blaze will urge viewers to “love and cherish your family” as they deliver this year’s alternative Christmas message.

Five of the young people who escaped the fire in west London that claimed 71 lives will speak of the importance of having a home in the Channel 4 broadcast on December 25.

Six months after the tragedy on June 14, 10-year-old Hayam Atmani, who lived on the 15th floor of the tower, will recall her memories of the night.

Fire engulfs Grenfell Tower in west London

She will say: “We went down the stairs and all we could see is this big flame on the side of the building.”

Her family now live in a small hotel a long way from her school, where they will spend Christmas and her birthday on December 27.

In the message, which is traditionally billed as an alternative to the Queen’s annual Christmas Day address, she will say: “It’s not that much fun,” but adds: “My message for everyone at Christmas is to stay as a family, and don’t suffer about anything.

“I know this has been a really hard time for everyone, but everyone went through and everyone helped as a family. So I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

The little girl will recall her fond memories of her former home and the views that impressed her friends.

She will say: “Everyone came. They were just saying, ‘Oh that’s so cool! I wish I lived here.’ You could see the whole area; parks and stuff.”

People leaving after the Grenfell Tower national memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral

Megan Gomes, 10, who lived on the 21st floor, will recall: “We always got a real tree, not a fake tree. We would all gather around the tree and open our presents together, and sometimes go round to our Gran’s.”

Both she and her sister Luana, 12, were placed into induced comas while they were treated for smoke inhalation.

Their family spent five months living in a hotel, but were recently moved to a temporary flat where they will spend Christmas.

Megan will say: “My Christmas message is that I think all families, children and parents should have a nice warm cosy home. I just want everyone in the world to have a house at least.”

Luana will add: “My Christmas message is that everybody should love and respect each other because you never know what tomorrow will be like.  And it is important to love and cherish your family.”

During the message the children will be seen decorating a Christmas tree and decorating ornaments.

Amiel Miller, 10, and his brother Danel, 7, who lived on the 17th floor, will recount how they heard people screaming on the night of the fire and hearing their mother tell them to get their clothes on and run down the stairs.

Danel will say: “We got outside and then we saw stuff falling down from the tower and grass on fire.”

His older brother will say his favourite thing about Christmas is seeing his family and eating and playing with his cousins.

He will add: “My Christmas message: it’s not all about getting presents, it’s also about giving.”

Danel’s message will be: “Share food!”

Channel 4 has broadcast a Christmas Day message since 1993.

In previous years it has been delivered by Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox, whistle-blower Edward Snowden and the parents of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The alternative Christmas message will air on Channel 4 on December 25 at 2.30pm.


From Belfast Telegraph