Grenfell Inquiry Hears Powerful Tributes To Those Who Lost Their Lives In The Fire

Steven Hopkins
Ali Yawar Jafari was one of 72 people to die in the fire on 14 June 2018

In the final words of his tribute to his father, Hamid Ali Jafari offered an apology to his father, who died in the Grenfell Tower fire last June. 

Speaking on the third day of commemorations to those who lost their lives, and with his mother and two sisters sitting beside him, he said he was sorry he could not “bring any happiness or a smile back” to their faces. 

He called his father, Ali Yawar Jafari, “a real hero” who alerted neighbours to the blaze before he tried to save his own life.

“I’ve never dreamed of going to heaven but now I fight every day, every second, because I want to join my dad. And I pray every day. Even I request my friends pray for me, to die soon, to meet my father,” Hamid told the hearing in Kensington, west London. 

Later, as he prepared his father for burial along with his brothers, Hamid told of how he longed to “smell my dad, feel my dad, hold my dad” one last time, but couldn’t. “He wasn’t in that condition. I hope God does not show to anyone, that day, what I saw,” he said. 

He said he had never seen his father as happy as when he held his grandson in his arms. “Both of them were connected to each other so sometimes when I see my son I feel like my dad’s soul came in my son.

“When I am holding him I feel I am holding my dad because I can still smell my dad on my son.”

Ali Yawar Jafari with his grandson

Jafari was one of seven victims of the fire commemorated on Wednesday. 

Sheets of paper were placed on the seats at the inquiry on Wednesday warning attendees that they might be shown “particularly upsetting” content. A medical emergency was declared on Tuesday after footage left some bereaved families in tears and one participant collapsed.

The warning, the hearing was told on Wednesday afternoon, was due to footage of the interior and exterior of the tower due to be shown during tributes. 

Tributes also continued from Tuesday for six members of the Choucair family, as well as Rania Rania Ibrahim - who live-streamed her final hours in the tower - and her daughters, Fethia and Hania.

Anthony Disson

Anthony Disson, known as Tony, was remembered by his ex-wife and sons, one of whom, Alfie, named his daughter after him.

Lee Disson, Tony’s son from a prior relationship, spoke of a childhood that “felt magical” because with his father, “you never knew what would happen next”.

“We had such a special bond because we were always together,” Michael Mansfield QC said, in a statement read on Lee’s behalf.

“He wasn’t just my dad he was my best mate.”

Tony Disson was remembered by his son's as their 'best mate'

Lee said later in life the pair grew apart, a fracture they were unable to fix before the 65-year-old’s death. 

“I tried to contact him on numerous occasions but wouldn’t hear back. I always assumed that one day we would work through whatever it was and that it would be how it used to be.

“I never once thought that we wouldn’t get the chance to make it right.”

Lee added: “We had our ups and downs but he will always be my dad. I know he loved me – always did, always would – and equally I know that he knew I loved him.

“I treasure all my memories from the years we had together.”

Rania Ibrahim 

Rania Ibrahim’s older sister, Sayeda Ibrahim, recalled the last time she saw her sister. Rania had hugged her tightly, saying: “I love you and I am proud that you are my sister”.

Sayeda said: “I laughed and said ‘what’s wrong, are you ok?’. She responded ‘yes, I just felt like hugging you’. Exactly one week later the tower in which my sister and her two children lived went up in flames.”

Rania Ibrahim with her daughter Fathia and Hania who also died in the fire

Sayeda added that her younger sister would have been “at the forefront” of the fight for justice for Grenfell if she had been alive today.

ZAINAB AND JEREMIAH DEEN

Zaniab Deen died next to her two-year-old son Jeremiah

Zainab Deen and her two-year-old son, Jeremiah, were found dead at each other’s side on the 14th floor, something their family told the hearing they took some comfort in. 

Remembering Jeremiah, the family said in a tribute read by Mansfield: “We cannot dwell on the sadness or keep asking the question ‘why this happened to our family’. Neither will we find a reason why such a handsome and cheerful boy was taken from us at the age of two.

“Instead, we will focus on how happy he made us when he was in our lives. Most of all, we are happy that you are with your mother Zainab, who loved, treasured and adored you. She will keep you safe now as she protected you in life.”

In a separate tribute, to Zainab, they said: “We are so proud to be able to call you our daughter. We are grateful for the brief time we were able to spend with you and believe that the angels are rejoicing because one of their loved ones has rejoined them. Until we meet again, beautiful soul, sleep and take your rest.”

GARY MAUNDERS

Gary Maunders, 57

Gary Maunders, a “devoted” Manchester United football fan, died on the top floor of the tower and was buried in the kit of the team he loved so much, the hearing was told. 

The 57-year-old was remembered by his ex-partner Ana Pumar, the mother of his two youngest children, and his nieces, Chanel and Kennita Spence.

“Gary was without doubt a devoted and loving father, he would give everything he had to ensure his children had everything they needed and more,” Pumar said in a statement read by Mansfield.

“The loss of their father, his love and presence in their life has been devastating for our children. They miss their dad more than words can describe and have been left with a huge part of their lives missing.

“Sadly for us, future milestones will be reached without having their father present, and future memories will not involve their father which is heart-breaking for us.”

Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick was criticised in March for advising survivors to “stay where you are” during a fire alert at another chamber.

The Grenfell victims remembered on Wednesday included:  Zainab Deen and her daughter Jeremiah Deen; Anthony Disson; Gary Maunders; Ali Yawar Jafari and Majorie and Ernie Vital. Tributes also continued from Tuesday for six members of the Choucair family as well as to Rania Ibrahim and her daughters Fethia and Hania.

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