Hospital holds service for family killed in Harlow fire

Sabah Usmani and her children Hira, Sohaib, Rayyan, Muneeb and Maheen (left to right) Credit: ITV Anglia

The Princess Alexandra Hospital has held an interfaith service for the family killed in the Harlow house fire. Dr Abdul Shakoor lost his wife Sabah Usmani and their five children, aged three to twelve, in the fire in the early hours of Monday 15th October.

At the service Dr Shakoor lit six candles in memory of his wife and five children.

Dr Shakoor works at the hospital in Harlow and his wife was also a doctor. Hospital staff and other emergency services were in attendance along with Dr Abdul Shakoor and his brother and extended family who have flown in from Pakistan. The service has been led by Hospital Chaplain Christine Hawkins and has the blessing of the Muslim community.

Speaking at the service today Dr Shakoor said he wants to start a charity in his family's memory to help burn victims.

The memorial service follows the funeral of the six family members on Wednesday. Speaking at the funeral Dr Shakoor said: "I have lost everything."

Breaking down in tears, he said: "It is a shocking and heartbreaking tragedy to myself, immediate family members and close friends that within such a short period of time I lost everything in my life."

The emotional speech during the funeral at the Harlow Islamic Centre was the first time Dr Shakoor has spoken publicly.

He quoted verses from the Koran and added: "I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to this community, the hospital and my colleagues and all of those who have come forward like a family at this devastating time."

Four hundred mourners joined Dr Shakoor to pay their respects.

Sabah Usmani, also a doctor, and her children - Hira, 12, Sohaib, 11, Muneeb, nine, Rayyan, six, and Maheen, three - died in the blaze in Barn Mead last week. Dr Shakoor, who tried to rescue his family, was the only survivor.

Paramedics, firefighters and police officers who dealt with the blaze joined members of the Muslim community for the funeral. Teachers and pupils who went to school with the children and staff from the Princess Alexandra Hospital where Dr Shakoor works were also at the ceremony.

A foot procession to the nearby Parndon Wood Cemetery followed prayers at the centre. Six hearses led the way, the first carrying the smallest coffin, that of Maheen, who was due to celebrate her fourth birthday on Tuesday, with Dr Usmani's coffin at the back of the cortege.

Dr Shakoor followed behind, with community elders holding his hand in a show of solidarity. Members of the public stood along the roadside to pay their tributes.

The funeral procession in Harlow of the mother and five children who died in a house fire. Credit: ITV Anglia