Grenfell Tower blaze victims’ places saved at Platinum Jubilee street party

·3-min read
Nabil Choucair, who lost six family members, as a table is laid for 72 absent people in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee during a Grenfell Jubilee event to remember the victims of the tragedy (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Nabil Choucair, who lost six family members, as a table is laid for 72 absent people in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee during a Grenfell Jubilee event to remember the victims of the tragedy (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Grenfell Tower survivors and campaigners have spoken of their “respect” for the Queen’s response to the disaster ahead of her Platinum Jubilee.

The Justice4Grenfell group held a street party on Monday to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne – with places laid out at a table for those killed in the blaze five years ago.

Each of the 72 places at the street party, which took place underneath the A40 flyover, was set with a name card, along with napkins and cups in the green colours of the Justice4Grenfell campaign.

Those attending reflected on the fact the Queen and Duke of Cambridge had visited relief efforts at the Westway Sports Centre in North Kensington just hours after the fire had been put out.

A dinner plate laid on a table for 72 absent people (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
A dinner plate laid on a table for 72 absent people (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Others also criticised the Government’s lack of “political will” to achieve justice for the victims.

Emma Louise O’Connor, who escaped when the tower caught fire in June 2017, said: “The Jubilee celebrations being so close to the five-year anniversary, it’s kind of hard to be able to get involved with celebrating, even though I have plenty of respect for the Queen.

“She came down to visit Westway, which was the right thing to do… this happened in her borough.”

Ms O’Connor, who lived on the 20th floor of the tower and was awoken by sirens, said the fire service had “definitely” been made scapegoats for the tragedy.

As she spoke, a passer-by briefly grasped her hand sympathetically.

Yvette Williams, a Justice4Grenfell campaigner, said: “The Queen had visited us shortly after the fire and was really embraced by the community.

The Grenfell inquiry found that the tower’s cladding was a key factor in the fire’s rapid spread (PA) (PA Wire)
The Grenfell inquiry found that the tower’s cladding was a key factor in the fire’s rapid spread (PA) (PA Wire)

“There are street celebrations that are going on this week and over the weekend, however there’s a heaviness to it because we lost 72 people… under the most horrific circumstances.”

Ms Williams said the Government should be legally obliged to follow the recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry and prosecute those responsible.

“If any of us had started that fire, we would have been sitting on remand in one of the HMPs somewhere in the country,” she said.

“The Government needs to act on those findings from the inquiry.

“Is there a political will? No, there isn’t a political will. But it’s only political will that will drive things through.”

The Grenfell inquiry found that the tower’s cladding was a key factor in the fire’s rapid spread.

Nabil Choucair, who lost his mother, sister, brother-in-law, and three nieces in the inferno, said his family is “far from getting justice”.

He said: “The laws need updating, the legislation needs amending, regulations need to be updated as well.

“It’s just fighting to make Britain safer so this never ever happens again”.

Six spaces were laid out for the Choucair family in the middle of the table, although Mr Choucair said he could not bring himself to go and see them.

“I don’t want to be drained too much because I feel very much when I see and hear and picture their names.

“I really do feel it.”

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