Notting Hill Carnival pays tribute to Grenfell fire victims with emotional minute silence

Snaking parade of floats and revellers halts for a minute's silence

Jemma Crew
Monday 28 August 2017 23:14
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Revellers fell silent at Notting Hill Carnival for the second day in a row
Revellers fell silent at Notting Hill Carnival for the second day in a row

For the second consecutive day, crowds dancing in the street during Notting Hill Carnival paused to observe a minute's silence in memory of those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

At 3pm on Monday sound systems stopped blaring and the carnival procession paused for 60 seconds to remember the at least 80 victims of the devastating tower block fire.

Around half a mile away from the charred high-rise, firefighters lined up, removed their helmets and bowed their heads outside North Kensington fire station.

The moment was concluded with a spontaneous round of applause and cheers from the hundreds of thousands of revellers celebrating the bank holiday weekend.

The firefighters were then embraced, congratulated and thanked by carnival goers, who posed for photos with them.

Local MP Emma Dent Coad wiped away tears following the moment of reflection, which she observed outside the fire station.

She said of the festivities: “It's a really, really lovely atmosphere, there's gorgeous weather, there's a lot of good feeling out there, a lot of people wearing green, and I think it should continue in that vein.”

Clarrie Mendy, a relative of Khadija Saye and Mary Mendy, who died in the fire, said the carnival had shown a number of those affected by the fire that their suffering was shared.

She added: “A lot of people are finding their voice and saying this is the first time since it happened they've actually found a voice to speak.

”I think they know they're not alone. They see other people suffering the same plight, they know there's a collective. That's why they can talk.“

Samia Badani, the chairwoman of Bramley House Residents' Association, spent Monday guarding the hundreds of handwritten tributes and flowers left near to the tower after the fire.

She said it had been ”very difficult“ to ensure people did not take photos of the memorials, adding that she wished posters discouraging people from using their cameras had been placed more prominently.

But she said: ”We understand people need to pay their respects.

“What we've seen is humanity, and you don't turn away humanity, and I think people want to show and share their sympathy.

”We've had messages of love, and people saying thank you to us for staying there.“

A "staggering" clean-up operation will get under way overnight, as the carnival draws to a close.

Dancing police officer steals show at Notting Hill carnival

By day-break on Tuesday, an estimated 300 tonnes of rubbish - the weight of 25 London buses - will have been swept from the streets where carnivalists partied just hours before.

More than 200 people, 30 refuse trucks and a large motorway vehicle to wash down the roads will be used by the council's contractors SUEZ to clear the area.

Councillor Mary Weale, lead council member for communities with responsibility for carnival, said: "This year's Notting Hill Carnival was different to any other, the Grenfell Tower fire was something that we all thought about.

"However, it was heartening to see the numbers of people that came to carnival and the many who stopped and reflected at the minute's silence on Sunday and Monday.

"The challenge our council officers and SUEZ face clearing up after one of Europe's biggest street parties before people head off to work on Tuesday morning is a staggering task.

"I would like to thank all of them for their efforts."

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