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I should not be having to rebuild my life at 70, says Grenfell survivor Rukayetu Mamudu

By Jemma Crew

A grandmother who escaped Grenfell Tower has spoken ahead of the first anniversary of the blaze of the "agony" of rebuilding her life.

Rukayetu Mamudu (70) and her grandson Tyrshondre were some of the first survivors to escape the fire in the early hours of June 14 last year.

A total of 72 people died as a result of the blaze that engulfed the 24-storey West London residential tower block.

Tomorrow, landmarks including 10 Downing Street will be illuminated green in memory of those who perished.

All Government departments will also observe a one-minute silence at noon.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who said this week that she would "always regret" not going to meet survivors more quickly, told ministers that this week "provides a moment of reflection for us all".

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's anniversary, Mrs Mamudu described how she spent her birthday two weeks ago praying for the 72 people who died and thanking God for sparing her and her grandson.

But she said she should not have to be starting from scratch after spending more than six months in a hotel.

She explained: "I feel I shouldn't be rebuilding my life at 70. I should be a lady of leisure now, not a lady of agony, waking up not knowing whether my grandchild will get what he needs. It's hard."

Diabetic Mrs Mamudu and Tyrshondre, now a teenager, spent more than six "difficult" months in a hotel, the majority of which was in the same room.

She had to sleep on the floor for five weeks before an orthopaedic mattress was donated, while volunteers brought a piano for Tyrshondre and took him to play football to help him stave off boredom.

Mrs Mamudu said: "There was not much we could do because the authorities, they were confused because of the shock, I think they didn't expect such a great breakdown of the system.

"The fire wasn't small. Nobody was ready for it - it was a wake-up call."

The pair are now living in a flat in Chelsea, which they hope to make their permanent home.

Mrs Mamudu said she had not been back to her flat, but recovery teams had salvaged a treasured possession which had belonged to her late son, as well as family photos now proudly displayed in her new home.

They also returned boxes of her beloved cacti and aloe vera plants which were miraculously still blooming after more than six months in the charred tower.

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