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Grenfell: Inquiry hears more tales of heartache

TRAGIC: Artist Khadija Saye was among those remembered on the initial day of the inquiry

THE COMMEMORATIVE hearings at the Grenfell Fire Inquiry have been described as “humbling and moving”.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the High Court judge leading the inquiry, said that “love had shone through” the tributes to the 72 victims of the Grenfell re, and vowed to find answers for the families.

Moore-Bick added that he had been “humbled” and moved by the strength and dignity of those who had come forward to remember their loved ones.

He said: “I’m struck forcibly by both the courage of those young and old who have found the strength to speak about their loved ones with such depth of feeling.

“It’s difficult for those of us who have not suffered such bereavement of a close relative or friend in such circumstances [to understand], but it’s the love that has shone through all of these memorials and had been profoundly affecting.” His thoughts are likely to be echoed by many who followed the proceedings.

Bernard Richmond QC, the second counsel to the inquiry, said: “Their lives are not defined by the manner of their death. They were people with hopes and dreams, problems, likes, dislikes, friends and maybe even enemies. It’s only against the background of such knowledge that many of us can begin to understand what happened on that dreadful, dreadful night. It has been heartbreaking and uplifting. It leaves in me an indelible mark ... and we feel privileged to have listened.”


R.I.P: Five-year-old Isaac Paulos and Raymond Bernard, 63, also perished in the blaze

TEARS

The seven days of commemorative hearings saw relatives share heartfelt tributes of their loved ones and heartbreaking accounts of the moments they lost them. Among the families who paid tribute was that of artist Khadija Saye and her mother, Mary Mendy. They were remembered on the first day of the inquiry.

Her father, Mohammedu, said: “Khadija said to me one day: ‘Daddy I’m in love with images’. It was this passion that Khadija pursued to the end because it gave her great satisfaction and brought her some joy and happiness.”

Another person remembered was Raymond Bernard, 63, who also died in the tragedy. Fighting back tears, his sister Bernadette said his nickname of Moses - who, as the Bible recalls, led the Israelites
through the parted Red Sea to safety - was apt.

She told the inquiry how he invited his neighbours into his top floor flat as the fire blazed. “There was no way down, so the only alternative for many was to head up to the top floor. There they met Ray and took refuge in his flat,” she said.

Seven bodies were found in Bernard’s flat, several of them lying across his bed. Bernadette said: “He did not deserve to die in that way. Where there is no justice, there will be no peace. I will never forget, I will never forgive.”

On the sixth day of the commemorative hearings, Paulos Tekle, the father of five- year-old Isaac who died in the fire, repeatedly asked why the emergency services had advised him and his family to stay put while the flames burned.

Tekle said: “I listened to the authority and that makes me angry. If I had not listened to the fire brigade my son would have likely be alive today.”

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