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Faith helped bring hope to Grenfell survivors

TRIBUTES: A carpet of flowers lies near the scene of the Grenfell Tower blaze

A CHRISTIAN nurse who appeared in an advert for Boots last Christmas gave a helping hand during the Grenfell Tower fire in west London, has revealed that she is being stopped and thanked by survivors for her efforts throughout that fateful night.

Simone Williams-Anglin was at the scene of the fire shortly after it broke out in the early hours of the morning until 1pm the following day.

She also spoke to various media outlets about her experience including the BBC, ITV, CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

People who live near Grenfell Tower are so appreciative of Williams-Anglin's efforts to help, she has become a bit of a local celebrity.

BRAVE

The nurse told The Voice:

“I can’t walk anywhere. People say, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re the nurse – can I hug you?’ People are just thanking me and saying how brave I am but it’s not brave. I’m a nurse. It’s what I’m supposed to do. I believe any nurse would have done what I did.”


WELCOMING: Simone Williams-Anglin appearing on an advert for Boots last year

Williams-Anglin, 39, a mother-of-two and member of Life Church in Kilburn, lives just five minutes from Grenfell Tower.

She became aware that something was happening at the tower when she heard a commotion outside her block of flats. She went to find out the reason for the furore and saw cars with sirens whizz past and then met a Grenfell Tower resident who said his building was on fire. She followed him to the north Kensington tower block and saw the burning building for herself. She recalled:

“At that point it was on fire, but I just thought, ‘It’s really bad, but it’s going to stop soon’."

How wrong she was.

Once on the scene, Williams-Anglin naturally wanted to assist and was allowed through the police cordon to work with the paramedic team who had set-up in the nearby leisure centre. She dealt with a range of people that night. She even went home to get towels and clothing for some of the survivors who came out of the building wet as they had wrapped themselves in soaked clothing. And she prayed with some people.

“I met one particular woman and she was just crying hysterically,” Williams-Anglin said.


GRIEVING: Locals watch as the coffin of Mohammad Alhajali, a Grenfell victim, is taken from the mosque in Whitechapel on June 21

“I did not know why – but I knew she was a woman of faith. I asked her, ‘You’re a woman of faith, aren’t you?’ She said, ‘Yes – God got me out of here.’

She was in a panic because her 12 year-old daughter was missing.

“I said to her, ‘You’re going to stop crying, and you’re going to pray.’ But she kept saying, ‘My daughter – I’ve only got one daughter’, and I said, ‘God’s not going to fail you.’”

The woman eventually learned her daughter was in hospital – but did not know which one.

Williams-Anglin added:

“People were coming through the leisure centre, but even then you didn’t see the gravity of the fire.
I didn’t understand it until the firemen were coming to the paramedics to be seen.”

Williams-Anglin saw some scenes she would like to forget.

“There were people at the window screaming. They were using t-shirts as flags at the window. One woman threw her baby out the window and a man caught the baby. There were people jumping out the window. It still doesn’t feel real. People just jumped. There was no one to catch them.”


VICTIM: Khadija Khalloufi, 52, is one of the nine formally identified as dying in the fire

Despite witnessing such upsetting things and being traumatised by them, Williams-Anglin has been buoyed by her faith and inspired by the outpouring of love she has seen.

HUMANITY

“My faith in God is strong. Now I can see humanity. Since Wednesday (June 14) until now, love has been the main thing. People of all faiths have been uniting, gathering, feeding each other, taking care of each other, and just hugging people and loving people,” she said.

“This just goes to show that we can live in a world, have different belief systems but still love each other.”

Williams-Anglin's main concern now is for survivors, saying:

“It would be nice if people had homes. It would be nice if there were family liaison officers to support the families while they are waiting for their missing relatives to come up.

“Put the support in place now. We need to provide bereavement counselling for children. They have been through so much."

The mother-of-two says she will always be on hand to help others:

"I'm always giving to show love wherever I can."

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