Sea of tears

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS -

a man fought to stand while a woman was over­come by emo­tion.

If there was a sym­bol of the day it was a young woman in a head­scarf hold­ing up a young black woman as she sobbed un­til her body shook.

Ev­ery­one was full of care for each other – touch­ing shoul­ders, whis­per­ing “You OK?”, link­ing arms.

The Soul Sanc­tu­ary gospel choir sang Some­thing Inside So Strong and the lines “The more you refuse to hear my voice the louder I will sing” seemed to have a spe­cial res­o­nance.

Organised by grass­roots sur­vivors and be­reaved group Gren­fell United, the event had an ex­tra­or­di­nary power and au­then­tic­ity.

“It wasn’t just us, it was ev­ery­one,” said Shahin Sadafi, GU’S chair, whose fam­ily es­caped the fifth floor of the tower. “This com­mu­nity is amaz­ing.”

Natasha El­cock, one of the or­gan­is­ers, said: “We know we’ve earned the re­spect of the coun­try by the way we have dealt with this – with dig­nity and de­ter­mi­na­tion, not just anger.”

Ahead of the na­tional si­lence, be­reaved fam­i­lies were in­vited to light can­dles at St He­len’s church.

A to­tal of 73 doves were re­leased, one for each lost soul and one for any who may have gone un­counted.

As the day went on, ev­ery cul­ture’s cus­tom was qui­etly ob­served – wreath lay­ing, flick­er­ing can­dles, prayers, planted trees, po­etry and shared food. At 5pm Gren­fell con­verged at St Cle­ments church, as it had a year ago when sur­vivors hud­dled inside, wait­ing for news in the 30C heat.

But the mo­ment the com­mu­nity needed most of all came later, as thousands gath­ered at the Max­illa Hall So­cial Club, an­other vi­tal help dur­ing those first hours, days and weeks.

A year ago, vol­un­teers in this downto-earth restau­rant and club run by Al­bert Walsh and his son Joe col­lected more than 4,700 boxes of do­na­tions.

It is 11 months since Zeyad Cred organised the first silent monthly walk around the tower perime­ter, when only a few dozen joined him.

On the six-month an­niver­sary more than 2,500 peo­ple walked with him and, in re­cent months, more and more fire­fight­ers have started com­ing too.

Last night the walk­ers were in thousands, Jeremy Cor­byn among them.

And there could be no doubt that the Gren­fell com­mu­nity is more than just a phrase or idea – it is some­thing unique forged from spe­cial peo­ple.

But ev­ery one, if they could, would wind back time to June 13, 2017.

As one woman said: “I wish ev­ery sin­gle day I could go back to the night I went to sleep be­fore the fire, and this would all just be a ter­ri­ble dream.”

TO­GETHER IN PAIN Peo­ple share hugs on first an­niver­sary Dany Cot­ton con­soles fire­fighter TEAM RE­MEM­BERS Eng­land ob­serv­ing si­lence IN MEM­ORY Flow­ers and hearts in green pro­ces­sion Labour chief took part in walk

UNITY Down­ing Street is green

DRAMA Blaze in Lon­don flats

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