Grenfell tributes as youngest victim’s photo and man’s recorded words shared
Six days of tributes are taking place before the inquiry hears evidence.
The final recorded words of a father killed in the Grenfell Tower fire and a picture of its youngest victim were shared by grieving relatives as the public inquiry into the disaster began.
Six days of tributes from friends and families of the blaze’s 72 victims are taking place before Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s probe begins hearing evidence next month.
Almost one year on, the bereaved laid bare the terrible human cost of the tragedy in a series of “pen portraits”, reducing many in attendance at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, South Kensington, to tears.
Sir Martin, a retired Court of Appeal judge, thanked the families for their moving tributes at the end of the first day, saying: “They are extremely impressive presentations and they bring to life again the people that you are commemorating and I’m very grateful to have had a chance to see and hear them.”
Stillborn baby Logan Gomes, the youngest victim of the June 14 inferno last year, was the first of six victims to be remembered.
His family had escaped from the 21st floor of the west London block.
Raw grief was written across the face of father Marcio Gomes as he paid tribute, often pausing to contain his distress.
Most upsettingly, a picture of the infant’s body, swaddled in a blanket and held by his mother, was shown on a screen.
Mr Gomes said: “He might not be here physically but he will always be here in our hearts, and will be forever. I know he’s here, with God, right next to me, giving me strength and courage to take this forward.”
A voice trapped in the tower was also aired for the first time on Monday morning, one of several moments that counsel to the inquiry Bernard Richmond QC warned could be painful.
Mohamed Amied Neda, a proud father-of-one who fled persecution at the hands of the Taliban to find a new home in Britain, was honoured by his brother, wife and son.
A picture was painted of a diligent, hard-working family man, who rose from being a pizza delivery driver to the head of his own chauffeur company.
Goodbye, we are leaving this world now, goodbye Mohamed Amied Neda, Grenfell blaze victim
Mr Neda’s final recorded words, sent to loved ones as he was trapped in the burning block, were played to the room.
The 57-year-old, also known as Saber, was heard saying, stoically: “Goodbye, we are leaving this world now, goodbye.”
His wife and son were left in a coma by the fire.
Also remembered was Denis Murphy, a 56-year-old father who was hailed as his family’s “lynchpin”.
A “recovered handful of coins” are the only possessions his loved ones have left, sister Anne-Marie Murphy said.
“So poignant to us, as he would give you his last pennies to you if you ever needed them.”
Many of the tributes were applauded by those gathered at the hearing.
He stood no chance of getting out and this should never have happened Sam, son of victim Joseph Daniels
The son of 69-year-old Joseph Daniels, introduced only as Sam, spoke with brevity and power, requesting no applause.
Of his father, who had lived in Grenfell Tower since 1982, he said: “The events of that night took his life and all traces of his existence from this world.
“He stood no chance of getting out and this should never have happened.”
Mother and daughter Mary Mendy and Khadija Saye were the final victims remembered.
The family of Ms Mendy, 54, and artist Ms Saye, 24, said there would be two empty chairs for every birthday, Christmas and New Year’s celebrated without them, adding: “They will forever own a position in our hearts”.
Tottenham MP David Lammy, a friend of the young artist and a Grenfell campaigner, joined family members at the front of the room.
The inquiry began in the morning with a 72-second silence, one for each victim of the blaze.
Each name will be read out at the close of the commemorations.
The hearings are taking place at the South Kensington hotel as it is closer to the Grenfell community.
Private rooms, quiet areas and a prayer room are available for the bereaved, survivors and residents, while there will be counselling and NHS support.
The rest of phase one of the inquiry will take place at Holborn Bars in central London, where several procedural hearings have already happened.