Grenfell victims remembered at Westminster Abbey service on fifth anniversary
Tap above to watch video report by Callum Watkinson
The 72 men, women and children who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire have been remembered at a service to mark five years since the devastating blaze.
Multi-faith leaders read out the names of the victims of the tragedy, during a service at Westminster Abbey to remember those who perished in the tower block fire on 14 June 2017.
After each group of names was read out, the congregation said in unison “Forever in our hearts” – the phrase emblazoned across the top of the covered-up tower in north Kensington.
Attendees included former prime minister Theresa May, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Housing Secretary Michael Gove, building safety and fire minister Stephen Greenhalgh, and shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy.
Opening the service, the very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, said the loss and anguish “are still vivid and sharp” as the congregation gathered “in sorrow and in pain”.
He said: “Here we renew our commitment to remember those we have lost.
“We gather as those who look for justice and a renewed commitment to securing safety in our homes, safety in times of fire.
“Grateful for the support of the communities and individuals that have sustained the bereaved and the survivors over the last five years, we meet in faith and hope looking to a better, safer, surer future.”
Journalist Jon Snow spoke at the service to call for those responsible for the fire to face prosecution.
Mr Snow said the fire speaks to the “grotesque inequality” in the UK.
“Grenfell, set in the richest borough in Britain, speaks to the grotesque inequality with which our society has been riven”, he said. “We must now confront the issues raised by the Grenfell disaster.”
Becoming emotional, the veteran reporter said that it was the worst domestic tragedy that he has had to report on.
“This is our time”, he said. “This is the worst domestic tragedy that I have had to report on in 50 years.
He added: “This is our moment, this is the moment when those responsible must face justice.”
Some family members of those who died in the fire refused to attend the service in protest over the abbey's refusal to stream the footage of the service live.
Nabil and Hisam Choucair, who lost six relatives in the blaze, told ITV News they wanted the world to see the service as it took place.
“We wanted to express the live footage to the world," Nabil Choucair said. "This is our day for remembering our family, our loved ones - the angels - that we should never have lost. We wanted everybody to know about it and be part of this service."
Nabil Choucair, who lost six loved ones in the Grenfell blaze, explains why he didn't attend the service
Hisam Choucair added: "Today it's about the remembrance of our loved ones and they’ll never be forgotten. We’ll continue to fight for their justice, for change and to make sure this doesn’t happen again."
Politicians posted tributes on social media, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeting: “Today marks five years since the Grenfell Tower fire took the lives of 72 people.
“My thoughts are with the survivors, those who lost loved ones and the wider community.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer posted: “Five years on from the Grenfell tower fire we remember the 72 people killed.
“The Grenfell community are courageous in their pursuit of justice and change.
“We stand with them. To honour the memories of those lost we must prevent such a tragedy happening again.
Mr Khan tweeted: “Along with all Londoners I stand with the Grenfell community, today on the fifth anniversary of that terrible tragedy, and always.
“Together, we will get the answers, justice and change that we need to protect communities in London and across the rest of our country.”
The Westminster Abbey service is one of several events at which Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and the community will gather on Tuesday, five years on from the deadliest domestic blaze since the Second World War.
A spokeswoman for campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell said: “Today we stand with the Grenfell bereaved, survivors and community. Forever in our hearts.
“The Grenfell Tower fire has become a symbol of the social inequality and injustice that exists in our country.
“Seventy-two people lost their lives, many people lost their homes, possessions, families and loved ones.
“The first duty of any government is to protect the lives of its citizens. From the right to life and including the duty to provide adequate housing, these duties are enshrined in law and are where the government has and continues to fail.”
Where you can go for help
The Grenfell Foundation was set up following the Grenfell Tower fire and provides independent support and advocacy for the former residents of Grenfell Tower and the bereaved families and dependents.
You can contact them by emailing email@example.com.
Samaritans provides round the clock support for people when they need it most.
You can call them 24 hours a day on 116 123. They also have tips if you're concerned about someone you know, and advice if you're struggling yourself.
Mind provides advice and support to help anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They also campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
You can call them Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm on 0300 123 3393. You can also text them on 86463.
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