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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have joined bereaved families and survivors for a multi-faith service at the base of Grenfell Tower to remember the 72 people who died there five years ago.
Prince William and Kate Middleton were among a crowd of hundreds of people gathering to pay their respects to the 72 victims of the inferno on June 14, 2017.
A 72-second silence was observed at the base of the tower by attendees including the duke and duchess - broken by a round of applause.
Kate laid down a wreath with white flowers as William looked on just behind her, before both bowed their heads and stood for a moment of quiet reflection.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan laid the next wreath, before also bowing his head in remembrance..
At the ceremony Grenfell survivors and bereaved relatives released 18 green balloons from the base of the west London tower to represent each child who died there five years ago. The name of each child was read out as each balloon was released at the anniversary service.
There were also choir performances, prayers, readings and the unveiling of a white heart sculpture made of hands.
The service was live-streamed on screens positioned in the surrounding area so the wider community and public could watch.
Eight-year-old Ayeesha, who survived the fire, recited a poem she wrote called Never Forget.
She said: “We will stay strong, we will rise up as a community, we will fight for justice together, we will always remember our friends and our neighbours, we will always remember our home.
“We can’t change the past but we can change the future. Never forget.”
Many have been paying their respects at the foot of the tower. Musician Stormzy was among those who was seen there.
Later several hundred people left on a silent two-mile walk from Grenfell Tower to mark the fifth anniversary. London Fire Brigade firefighters stood in solidarity with the Grenfell community during the walk.
Dozens of firefighters stood in lines on either side of Cambridge Gardens Road, in Ladbroke Grove, west London, as hundreds of people on the walk marched past them.
Some firefighters held green hearts reading “Grenfell” and onlookers applauded as the mourners passed through their ranks.
Earlier survivors and bereaved families marked five years since the tragedy at Westminster Abbey as the bishop leading the memorial service insisted the fight for justice will go on.
The Bishop of Kensington, the Rev Dr Graham Tomlin, said there was a sense of “injustice, grief and sadness” felt by the community following the fire, which claimed 72 lives.
No individuals or companies have been charged over the fire so far.
Campaigners also warned a similar disaster will happen after the Government failed to proceed with all the recommended changes needed to stop a similar tragedy.
Dr Tomlin told the memorial service that housing industry bosses appeared to put profits ahead of people.
“Lament refuses to accept easy answers,” he said. “It tries to name an uncomfortable reality — it says plainly that what happened at Grenfell was wrong. It was not an unfortunate accident — it was the result of careless decisions taken, regulations ignored, an industry that seemed at times more interested in making profits and selling products than in the precious value of human life and keeping people safe in their own homes.”
He added: “Those of you who lost loved ones in Grenfell Tower, those who survived that night, those of you who live in the local community and who watched the events of that dreadful nigh unfold, have waited five long years.
“And our waiting continues still. And so today we acknowledge our shared sorrow, that sense of injustice, the ongoing grief.”
Mr Snow said "there is an investigation continuing that will end in prosecution, and we must see to it that it does".
The former Channel 4 news anchor spoke to an audience of residents, survivors, the bereaved, and politicians.
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 sat to the side of the pulpit.
Mr Snow said: "Grenfell, set in the richest borough in Britain, speaks to the grotesque inequality with which our society has been riven.
"We must now confront the issues raised by the Grenfell disaster."
The names of the Grenfell victims were read out in the abbey and flowers were laid on the Innocent Victims’ Memorial as the abbey bell tolled 72 times. At 2pm a 72-second silence was observed at Westfield shopping centre, with the names of the 72 victims read out over the public address system.
Later on Tuesday cording around the tower in north Kensington was removed for a multifaith service and laying of tributes. This evening firefighters from across the country will form a guard of honour as members of the community take part in a silent walk from the base of the tower.
Karim Mussilhy said he has not been able to come to terms with losing his uncle, Hesham Rahman, in the fire.
Mr Mussilhy, a leading member of the Grenfell United campaign group, told the Standard: “It’s been five years but for us it feels like no time has passed… we are still fighting for justice, five years on.”
The fire was sparked by a faulty fridge and combustible cladding that coated the building was a key factor in the rapid spread of the inferno.
Residents were advised to stay put as the flames raged up the building because firefighters had been told its design would prevent them from spreading. However, Grenfell had no fire doors or sprinkler system and only one staircase, while the cladding acted as a chimney spreading the fire and smoke up the building.
Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey on it’s fifth anniversary
Families are still enduring the Grenfell Tower inquiry, tasked with investigating how the fire happened. It is now in its second and final phase due to end next month.
The public inquiry panel, led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, is expected to produce a final report based on its findings.
The report written after the first phase of the inquiry advised the Government to place a legal obligation on building owners to outline emergency evacuation plans for residents.
However, the Government plans to keep the controversial “stay put” policy, which means residents of many tall buildings will still be advised to wait for rescue services during a fire.
There are still at least 9,790 tower blocks in the UK, including over 1,000 in London, that have been deemed unsafe due to dangerous cladding.
The Met said it will not pass evidence on to prosecutors until the inquiry has been completed later this year.
It comes as politicians paid tribute 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.”
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.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 14, 2022
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.
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.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) June 14, 2022
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.”
Today and always, Londoners stand in solidarity with the Grenfell community.
Together, we will get the answers, justice and change that we need to protect communities in London and across the rest of our country. 💚 pic.twitter.com/w3XABWgiWw
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 14, 2022
The Grenfell Health and Wellbeing service, run by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, was created told help survivors with their long-term health.
It provides access to emotional and physical services to help residents cope with the trauma they endured and give help with housing, financial, employment and education supports.
Nick Burton was a resident of Grenfell Tower for 33 years and his wife Pily passed away due to the fire.
He been working with the service. He said: “It’s been very difficult. I’ve been in therapy. The journey I’ve been on, I know that it works. It works for me. I understand that I needed that.
“Other people in the community, they may need the service but they don’t know how to engage with it. You go around the community, you meet up with people and it’s a little bit easier to talk to us.
“What we’re doing is engaging with the community, going out to the community and saying that we’re here.”