Service remembers five killed in Grenfell Tower fire
The ecumenical service was held 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.”
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?”
Father Georgis Dimtsu, speaking on behalf of the Haftom and Paulos families said their deaths had been a huge loss to the Ethiopian community.
He described Isaac, also know by the surname Welde Mariam, and Beruk as “brilliant students”.
Alluding to what he described as a culture in Ethiopia of hopes for bright, young people to enter the medical profession, he said: “Beruk, we were hoping he will be a successful doctor, so as Isaac.
“We didn’t expect this would happen. It’s unfortunate. For the Ethiopian community it is a big loss. It is terrifying, it’s tragic.”