‘Modern-day Moses’ sheltered six in top-floor flat in Grenfell Tower
Raymond Bernard gave refuge to families trying to escape the inferno as it consumed the block.
A “hero” grandfather sheltered six people in his top-floor flat in Grenfell Tower on the night it was destroyed by fire, an inquiry has heard.
Raymond “Moses” Bernard gave refuge to families trying to escape the inferno as it consumed the block, offering them his bed while he sat on the floor.
His family gave a tearful tribute to the 63-year-old, who died with his dog Marley, during the final day of commemoration hearings at the public inquiry into the disaster.
Moving to London from Trinidad in 1969, Mr Bernard became an electrician and worked at historic sites including the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace.
He had lived in Grenfell Tower for more than 30 years,
My beloved Ray was my modern-day Moses, my hero Bernadette Bernard
On Wednesday, his sister Bernadette Bernard, fighting back tears, said the biblical connotations of the affectionate nickname Moses – who led the Israelites through the parted Red Sea to safety – was apt.
“My beloved Ray was my modern-day Moses, my hero,” she said. “Ray always had a smile on his face. He knew how to love without expecting anything in return.”
She continued: “On that fateful night, seven individuals were located in Ray’s flat. These were Deborah Lamprell, Jessica Urbano (Ramirez), a mother, Berkti Haftom, and her son Biruk Haftom, Hamid Kani and one other.
“As there was no way down to escape, the only alternative was to head towards the top floor.
“There they met Ray and took refuge in his flat. The positioning of Deborah, Jessica, Berkti and Biruk were on my brother’s bed with my brother resting beside the bed on the floor.
“This shows the respect he gave to those who lost their lives that night and we know that he would have given comfort to each of them before they took their last breaths and departed this world.
“Ray being a man and the strongest he was probably the last to die.
“He would have been so alone. We know from the details shared by the coroner that Ray was a hero on that tragic night.”
A statement from coroner Fiona Wilcox to the family brought them a lot of comfort, it was heard.
Ms Bernard said: “Ray did not answer his phone on that night and so we have no telephone recordings from him, but we do know that calls made to the emergency services from his flat mention him time and time again.”
Mr Bernard – a one-time DJ as part of a so-called sound system collective – left behind three grandchildren.
His sister said she had been left with post-traumatic stress disorder and was haunted by images of fire in her dreams.
No amount of medication could soothe her pain, she said, adding she is unable to work.
She told the hearing: “Death should have taken my brother naturally, he should not have been killed in this way.
“He did not deserve to die by suffocation, cyanide poisoning and ultimately burn until his remains are no more than 30% of who he was.”
She added: “He was not only my brother, my rock and friend – he was also my protector.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was among those in the audience on Wednesday, following criticism that politicians had been largely absent from the process.
The tributes are taking place at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in South Kensington ahead of formal evidence hearings next week.