Country pauses to mark one year since Grenfell Tower tragedy claimed 72 lives

The country fell silent at midday today as people paused to remember the 72 victims of the Grenfell Tower fire one year on since the tragedy.

Bereaved families and community members – many dressed in green in a tribute to the victims – gathered at St Helen’s Church for a memorial service.

Members of the royal family also marked the sombre day with the Duke of Cambridge leading a minute’s silence at Buckingham Palace and the Queen wearing green as she paused to remember the victims while in Chesire with the Duchess of Sussex.

Bishop of Kensington Dr Graham Tomlin described the atmosphere inside St Helen’s Church as "quiet dignity, a sombre mood in the air, but a quite determined mood at the same time".

"I think today is a really important day for the whole nation to remember Grenfell," he said.

"Clearly there are a lot of other things going on in people’s lives but today is a day that, a year on, we can remember that terrible night and those events afterwards. And we learn the lessons of today.

"I think we could change a lot of things, we could identify who was responsible, we can make building regulation changes, but unless we ask some more fundamental questions about the way we relate to each other in society and how we care for one another, then we will just go back to the way we normally are.

"I think Grenfell is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ask some really deep questions about the way we live together, the way we care for each other in society."

Deputy leader of the local council, Kim Taylor-Smith, and Leslie Thomas QC, a barrister representing some of the survivors and the bereaved at the public inquiry into the blaze, were seen taking their seats ahead of the start of the memorial.

On Wednesday night, Grenfell Tower was among a dozen buildings illuminated in green at 12:54am – the time of the first 999 call reporting the fire – as a sign of respect, along with Downing Street and the London Eye

Near the base of the ruined block in west Kensington on Thursday morning, Mr Roncolato said: "Today is a very important day. We have to remember what has happened – I am very lucky and fortunate to be alive.

"My thoughts are all the time with people that are no longer with us but mainly with the families of those people because their wounds are very much open and very painful.

"Today is a time to reflect and to raise further awareness and make sure that the world is still listening because we don’t want this to happen ever again."

The anniversary comes as two apartment fires burned in London and Edinburgh on Thursday.

Residents of the London block of flats say there was no fire alarm and they were instead alerted to a fire in their building by screaming onlookers.

Alix Mabon, 25, praised the bravery of three teenagers who drew her attention to the blaze in the 20-storey tower block before running up the stairs knocking on doors.

She said: "The first thought that came into my head was, ‘Oh my God, it’s Grenfell. We’re going to be the next Grenfell’."

Around 150 people were evacuated from Roma Corte, in Lewisham, as around 58 firefighters descended on the scene around 4.15am Thursday.

The fire was suppressed by the building’s sprinkler system and eventually extinguished.

Exactly a year on from the Grenfell blaze, the hollowed skeleton of the tower is cloaked in white scaffolding and topped with tributes designed by those affected.

Banners bearing the giant green hearts which have become synonymous with the disaster can be seen for miles, alongside the slogan: "Grenfell: Forever in our hearts."

Lampposts and zebra crossings throughout the neighbourhood have been festooned with green fabric, while a giant floral heart greeted commuters at nearby Latimer Road station.

The wall of handwritten tributes – last year a desperate mesh of missing posters – is now home to carefully organised shrines to the victims, lined by plant beds.

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