London — Survivors of London’s Grenfell Tower fire disaster joined relatives of the dead on Thursday in poignant tributes to the 71 killed in the residential block inferno one year ago.
In a church service near the charred shell of the tower, grieving families, many in tears, clutched white roses and images of their loved ones lost in Britain’s deadliest domestic fire since the Second World War.
The names of the dead were read out and candles lit in their memory. Many mourners were dressed in green, the adopted colour of the tragedy.
As Britain held a national minute’s silence at midday, members of parliament stood in the House of Commons with their heads bowed.
Queen Elizabeth II, wearing a green outfit, stood alongside her grandson Prince Harry’s wife Meghan on a visit to Cheshire, northwest England.
Graham Tomlin, the Bishop of Kensington who was among the service leaders at St Helen’s Church in North Kensington, west London, said the memorial was a chance for people to mourn together.
"People are still grieving, are still recovering. A lot of people are dealing with their memories. They seek justice, they seek some answers," he said.
"But there is positivity as well, as this community is extremely resilient.
"It will take time for people to heal. We will never forget the people who died."
Jane Lanyero, a member of the African Women’s Care group, told AFP: "It brings all the memories back… There is hope but also frustration. So little has been done for the victims."
The Kensington and Chelsea local authority said that of the 203 families needing rehousing, 83 were in permanent homes, 52 in temporary housing and 68 in emergency accommodation.
Overnight, dozens of tearful survivors joined relatives on an emotional walk through the area. The procession ended in the shadow of the burnt-out block just before 12:54am, the time the London Fire Brigade received the first emergency call about the fire.
One by one, relatives announced the names of the deceased before pinning their pictures at the "wall of truth" — a section of the fencing around the tower featuring messages and candles.
The crowd then marked an eerie silence for 72 seconds — in memory of each of the people who perished, along with a stillborn baby.
"I saw everything that night and I couldn’t sleep for three weeks," recalled Farhiya Abdi, a mother-of-two who was among the first to arrive at Grenfell from her nearby home as the fire spread.