Family's tribute to 'truly wonderful' medical student, 19, killed in Nottingham attack

Grace Kumar - Londoner killed in Nottingham attack
Medical student Grace O'Malley-Kumar was described as 'fun, friendly and brilliant'. Credit: Twitter/@SouthgateHC/Facebook

The family of a talented young hockey player from London who was stabbed to death during a series of attacks in Nottingham have paid tribute to their "adored daughter and sister".

Medical student Grace O'Malley-Kumar, 19, was stabbed to death in a seemingly random attack, alongside 19-year-old Barnaby Webber after at 4am on Tuesday after a night out.

Another man, school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, was later killed at another location before the attacker is believed to have stolen his van and driving it into pedestrians in another street.

A 31-year-old man was arrested and is being held in custody. Police are yet to suggest a motive of the suspect, who is originally from West Africa and has a history of mental health problems.

In a statement issued through Nottinghamshire Police, Grace's family said: “Grace was an adored daughter and sister; she was a truly wonderful and beautiful young lady.

Grace, 19, was stabbed to death alongside a friend at around 4am in the city centre. Credit: Facebook

“Grace was not just a sister to James but his best friend. He is completely heartbroken. As parents, words cannot explain our complete and utter devastation. She will be so dearly missed.

“We were so incredibly proud of Grace’s achievements and what a truly lovely person she was.

"She was resilient and wise beyond her years. Grace was so happy in life fulfilling her ambition of studying to become a doctor whilst playing topflight hockey at university.

“She leaves behind devastated extended family and friends. We request that all media outlets stop invading our privacy while we face this sorrow.”

In an emotional speech at a vigil at the University of Nottingham, Grace's father, Dr Sanjoy Kumar, said such tragic circumstances emphasise the need for people to "look out for each other".

Grace and her family. Credit: Nottinghamshire Police

“The love that we have out here, I just wish that we had it everywhere. So, look after each other, is the big thing," he said.

“Look after your friends and look after people around you – it’s just so important... you need to love everyone, and I wish we had more of it.

Welling up with emotion as he addressed students in the crowd, Dr Kumar said: “She loved all of you, she really did, and you should all feel very blessed. You all touched her life and hence ours, you will never be forgotten by us certainly.

“We have children who were taken away prematurely for us, that should never happen to any parent, but all I can say to all of you guys is thank you for the things you did for our daughter and Barney."

Grace played hockey for the England under-16 and under-18 squads, as well as teams including Southgate Hockey Club in north London.

Family and friends of the student gathered at the vigil. Credit: PA

England Hockey said they were “deeply saddened” at the news of University of Nottingham's death.

In a short statement on Twitter, they said: “Grace was a popular member of the England U16 and U18 squads and our thoughts are with Grace’s family, friends, teammates and the whole hockey community at this time.”

Grace had been a member of Woodford Wells Cricket Club in Essex, with the club describing her as “fun, friendly and brilliant”.

Her local London club, Southgate Hockey Club, posted: "It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Grace O’Malley Kumar, a huge talent & much loved member of Southgate U18’s & W1’s.

"We are shocked & devastated by the news, our thoughts & sincere condolences are with Grace’s family, friends and teammates."

Friends embrace and comfort each other at Wednesday's vigil. Credit: PA

Bancroft’s School in north-east London, where Grace was a student until last year, said in a statement on its website: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death in Nottingham under tragic circumstances of one of our recent leavers from 2022, Grace O’Malley-Kumar.

“We are desperately shocked and saddened by Grace’s sudden death in these truly terrible circumstances. She left Bancroft’s only last year and was a hugely important part of our community.

“An immensely gifted and dedicated scholar and sportswoman, she was hugely loved and greatly respected and admired by all. She was outstanding in every respect and will be missed terribly.

“It will take everyone in the Bancroft’s community a considerable time to come to terms with this shocking news, but above all our thoughts are with Grace’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

'Grace was an adored daughter and sister; she was a truly wonderful and beautiful young lady,' her family said. Credit: Nottinghamshire Police

Paying tribute to the two students who lost their lives, The University of Nottingham described Barnaby as “fun, friendly, and full of life” and said Grace was “held in the highest regard by her tutors and team mates alike”.

In a statement, university Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West said: “It is hard to find the words to express the shock and grief felt across our institution at the senseless loss of two first year students who have had their bright futures brutally curtailed by a seemingly random act of violence."

He described Grace as a medical student who was "thriving in her first year of study", inspired to a career in medicine by work placements in a GP surgery and during her volunteering in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

"She was a talented sportswoman, playing international hockey for both the U16 and U18 England Hockey Team and Essex U15 Women’s Cricket. She was held in the highest regard by her tutors and team mates alike," Professor West said.

Grace celebrating with teammates at Southgate Hockey Club. Credit: Twitter/@SouthgateHC

He added: “The university is supporting Grace and Barnaby’s families at this immensely difficult time, and I hope to meet them privately today to express my deep condolences and continue to offer every support at our disposal – although I recognise that nothing will compensate for the loss of a cherished daughter and son."

Nottinghamshire Police said a 31-year-old man was tasered and arrested on suspicion of murder following Tuesday's attacks.

The force's chief constable Kate Meynell told reporters the force was not looking for anyone else in connection with the incidents and no further arrests had been made.

The police chief said the motive behind the attack was yet to be determined, but officers were keeping an “open mind” and working with counter-terror police.

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