Grenfell Tower fire: 'Agonising memories' of families and friends

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The second anniversary of the tragedy was marked last June

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire have joined friends and family of those who died at events to mark the two-year anniversary of the tragedy.

Seventy-two people were killed in the blaze in North Kensington, west London, on 14 June 2017.

The Archbishop of York acknowledged the "agonising memories" of the fire in a message read out at a memorial service.

More than 200 high-rise buildings in England are still covered with cladding similar to that used on Grenfell.

Image source, PA
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London mayor Sadiq Khan joined Grenfell survivors at the wreath-laying event on Friday

Relatives comforted each other during a wreath-laying ceremony on Friday evening.

A 72-second silence was held - one second for each victim - before a recitation from the Koran.

The names of the dead were then read aloud in sections, with those gathered responding "forever in our hearts" after each name.

Applause broke out as a large mosaic, which has been under construction since just before the first anniversary, was unveiled.

The final petal had earlier been added to the flower-shaped artwork, which has had contributions from a number of different community groups over the past year.

Many of those in attendance at the private event near the base of the tower, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, were wearing green scarves and other green items of clothing.

Image source, Reuters
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White doves were released at the end of the memorial service

In his message, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said anger over the fire had "turned into action for good", but he warned there were "uncomfortable truths still to be acknowledged".

Bishop of Kensington Dr Graham Tomlin told the congregation at St Helen's Church, across the Westway from the 24-storey block, the fire was a "national shame".

"Grenfell happened because we failed to love our neighbours," he said.

Earlier he told the Today programme there was "ongoing frustration" in the local area over the way Grenfell residents had been treated.

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Grenfell victims' names read out at memorial service

Marcia Robinson, who lost her friend Khadija Saye in the fire, described the service as "heartbreaking" and called for more support to be given to local residents.

Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle died in the fire, said it was important for all those affected to stand together and "make sure the general public understand that the issues of Grenfell are still happening today".

Seventeen families who were affected by the fire have yet to be found permanent accommodation, with one of those still living in a hotel and two others in serviced apartments.

Nearly 8,000 people have also been screened for signs of trauma by the Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service, with 398 children among those who have entered treatment.

Image source, Reuters
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People have been writing notes of remembrance and leaving tributes near to the tower

Bobby Power, who lost his father Steve and his home in the fire, said he had been "constantly in a spiral of depression" in the two years since.

"Every time I've tried to take two steps forward, I'm taking 10 back," he said.

Landmarks across the capital including 10 Downing Street and Kensington Palace were lit green overnight to mark the anniversary.

Image source, Reuters
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A march was held on the streets around North Kensington following the memorial service

The walls and pews of St Helen's Church were decorated with green ribbons for the memorial service, while attendees were given green sashes to wear around their necks.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended the service which also featured the singing of Britain's Got Talent semi-finalist and Grenfell survivor Leanne Mya.

The names of the 72 victims were also read out.

Ahead of the service, Grenfell resident Shahin Sadafi described the fire's anniversary as "more devastating than any other day".

"It takes us back to that horrific morning when our lives were changed forever," he said.

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Community memorials to Grenfell

Yvette Williams, a co-ordinator of campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell, said survivors were "increasingly feeling a sense of injustice".

Theresa May called the disaster "a local and a national tragedy with far-reaching consequences" which "we must not forget".

'Regulate them'

Later in the evening, rapper Stormzy joined thousands of people at a silent walk around the local area, in memory of the victims.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, wearing a green scarf, also joined the march which came after a vigil at which another rapper, Lowkey, delivered a speech.

He said: "This is a message to the government and I hope this message breaks through, regulate them before we regulate you."

Mr Corbyn tweeted his commitment "to creating a housing system and a society where such a tragedy can never happen again".

Image source, Getty Images
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Green balloons were released above the tower overnight

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