The grandparents of a toddler who died in the Grenfell Tower fire were today due to pay tribute to him and his mother who were “cruelly snatched away”.
Jeremiah Deen, two, and Zainab Deen, 32, died side-by-side after being trapped in their 14th-floor flat on June 14 last year.
Ms Deen made a series of frantic phone calls to her family, who could only watch in horror as the block was consumed by flames.
Her father, Zainu Deen, was to pay tribute this morning to his daughter and grandson, who were among 15 victims of the disaster being remembered at the public inquiry today.
Before the hearing, Ms Deen’s step-mother, Maria Deen, said: “It was incredibly difficult to write these words for Zainab and Jeremiah. How do you summarise what it means for such a tiny child’s life to be cut short? He was just an innocent boy who had no opportunities. He hadn’t even started to live yet. He hadn’t even got to experience life before it was so cruelly snatched away from him.
“During the whole writing process I always came back to the same two questions — why them? Why us?”
She said as a family from Sierra Leone, who moved to the UK for a better life, it was “so hard to comprehend how this can happen in a first world country”.
Mrs Deen added that dying in a fire was a “bad omen in our culture, which makes this loss so much harder to try to understand. We must hear the whole truth and face the whole truth as a nation — we owe it to every victim”.
Another victim due to be remembered today was 57-year-old Gary Maunders, whose body was recovered from the top floor. Ana Pumar, his former partner and mother of his two youngest children, said today: “Without these statements it’s easy to keep referring to everyone that lost their lives as ‘the victims’.
He wasn’t just a victim, he was a father and a friend and someone who lived a full and happy life.
“He had stories, experiences and memories that we want to keep alive — we cannot allow those to be forgotten and his life be reduced to simply a tragic statistic.”
Also being remembered was 10th-floor resident Tony Disson, 65 and Majorie Vital, 67, who died with her son Ernie, 43, in their 16th-floor flat. Tributes were also to be paid to mother Rania Ibrahim, who uploaded a harrowing Facebook Live video as she and her young daughters Fethia and Hania were trapped in the burning building; and to six members of the Choucair family who perished in their two flats on the 22nd floor.
Sheets of paper were placed on seats at the inquiry this morning warning attendees when there could be “particularly upsetting” content in the tributes. Around 20 people left the room in distress yesterday when a video of people trapped in the blaze was played without warning to the inquiry.